Presidential candidate Zemmour: Like Trump, only intellectual

As of: December 6th, 2021 8:03 am

In France, presidential candidate Zemmour brings back memories of Donald Trump. In terms of foreign policy, he is similarly confrontational. Internationally, politicians keep their distance – but not France’s conservatives.

By Silvia Stöber,

“Our Trump” – was the title of the French weekly magazine “Challenges” for a photo by Éric Zemmour at the end of October. Below the line: “His lies – His provocations – His media connections”. In the article on this, the authors describe how the politician was inspired by ex-US President Donald Trump, and how he also relies on a mixture of propaganda against the “system”, against immigration and provocation.

At the end of November, Zemmour announced his candidacy for the presidency. He had already toured the country in the weeks before, with his book “France Has Not Spoken Its Last Word” in his luggage. It is no coincidence that its cover resembles that of Trump’s book “Great Again”: Both pose in front of the national flag of their country.

When asked about Zemmour in an interview with the newspaper “Le Parisien”, Trump’s former campaign leader Steve Bannon spoke of an “interesting phenomenon”. However, the two men differ in one thing: Zemmour is “an intellectual”, in contrast to Trump. The latter considers himself a very intelligent businessman, but not an intellectual.

On the move in alt-right networks

Zemmour is known as a journalist and author. He studied at the renowned Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris, but failed twice in the entrance exams of the elite university École Nationale d’Administration (ENA). He wrote books on conservative politicians, including one entitled “The Suicide of France”. He was a long columnist for the conservative newspaper “Le Figaro”.

However, he has been convicted of inciting racial discrimination and can be as rowdy as Trump. He recently showed a woman in Marseille the middle finger that she had shown him earlier. Zemmour is also looking for support in social media. He is very active on Gettr – an alternative to Twitter, founded by Trump’s ex-spokesman Jason Miller. Gettr mainly attracts right-wing extremists and right-wing populists. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Marine Le Pen, head of the right-wing extremist party Rassemblement National in France, are present there; But not Trump himself.

So far avoided by politicians

Just as Trump has divided himself with many international partners of the United States and former comrades-in-arms, Zemmour’s statements are also suitable to offend other states: He thinks, for example, that the United States has no allies, but vassals. The Americans and Germany patronized France. His country would have to withdraw from NATO’s military command. While the USA dominated NATO, Germany had everything in hand with the EU in Brussels, he criticized years ago. He wants to close the borders with Spain and Italy in order to end irregular migration to France.

During a visit to London in November, he praised the British for Brexit: They no longer allowed themselves to be subjugated by European judges and technocrats. However, no politician in London wanted to show himself publicly with him. Zemmour postponed a stay in Brussels for “scheduling reasons”.

Not so in Budapest: in September, at the invitation of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, he took part in an international “summit on demography”. Zemmour reciprocated with praise: Orban understood the development of the world, he was defending the identity of his country and Europe.

Strongest competitor: Le Pen

Russian media enthusiastically quote Zemmour’s statements, especially those in which he speaks out against a “confrontation with Russia”, outlines the vision of a Eurasian axis and expresses admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kremlin-affiliated politicians and think tanks have so far been reluctant to commit to Zemmour: On the one hand, campaigns against Emmanuel Macron and support for the conservative François Fillon and the right-wing extremist Le Pen in previous presidential election campaigns were unsuccessful. On the other hand, it is unclear how far Zemmour will come in the election.

The strongest competition comes from the same camp with Marine Le Pen. It is true that Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, publicly considered supporting the more radical Zemmour, and there are apparently powerful donors behind him. But in recent polls she was doing better than him. Together they both get about a third of the vote.

Conservative Republicans, in particular, feel pressured by this voter potential. During their primary rounds, none of the candidates clearly distinguished themselves from Zemmour. Instead, comparable tones were heard on the subject of internal security, migration and France’s sovereignty in the EU.

Whichever way Zemmour fares, he also influences the foreign policy mood in France.

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