Eric Zemmour, author, former TV pundit and rising star of the French far-right, who made his name with an olive branch and a slogan that aims straight for the French heart: “Impossible n’est pas français” launched his campaign on Sunday evening for next year’s presidential election.
The far-right French presidential hopeful was grabbed by neck at heated political rally and scuffles with anti-racism protesters broke out on its fringes, which Universul.net reported on live.
Channeling De Gaulle
Polling institutes already have the 63-year-old who isn’t in any party in their sights. He has been channeling General De Gaulle to win votes (in parallel he has rehabilitated Marshal Pétain).
The right-wing polemicist launched his bid for the Elysee Palace on Sunday in the controversial style he has become known for.
The launch was peppered with patriotic speeches made by guests and his staff, a relentless exercise in stroking national pride, which was present in all forms (on the big stage, in the hall; in the manifesto, but also subliminal).
The scapegoats for all ‘misfortunes’ were the European Commission and the United States of America. The persecution complex was in evidence: Murky forces in elite political circles were trying to censor the launch and his candidacy.
There was the proclamation of boundless love for France and the French and harsh words and an intervention against various participants such as journalists, for the likely sin of not having shown a minimum level of enthusiasm for Eric Zemmour’s candidacy and philosophy, both before and during the launch.
Universul.net published live updates from the scene including cuffles with anti-racism protesters. The New York Times said: “It looks as if a new, more virulent chapter in that history of French bigotry may now be opening — with a seemingly unlikely champion.”
Éric Zemmour…. is the loudest and most extreme voice of French racism today.” France 2 ran the pithy headline “Emmanuel Macron’s challenger and Marine Le Pen’s nightmare: „Veni, vidi, Vichy.”
Ian Buruma, the former editor-in-chief of the New York Review of Books wrote: „Zemmour is an extreme assimilationist. He cannot stop talking about his ardent love of France. Again, there is nothing unusual about that. But his family roots among the Berbers are a complicating factor.
Zemmour’s attitudes are not unique to France, or to Sephardic Jews. In the Netherlands, for example, one thing some of the most fervent opponents of Muslim immigration have in common is a family history in Indonesia, the former Dutch East Indies. Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigrant Party for Freedom, is partly Eurasian. So are some other prominent figures in Dutch far-right politics who have an obsession with Islam.
Racial hierarchies in the former colonies were complex. Eurasians in Indonesia, especially those with a Dutch education, were not just keen to be thought of as Europeans, but were fearful of being identified as Asians – let alone Muslims.
Many Algerian Jews were just as eager to identify as French, and living among Muslims could easily result in hostility.”
It’s hard to say how Marine Le Pen, whose extremism is considered amateurish by the Zemmour camp, felt on Sunday night. Her father has already announced that he has no reservations about supporting this new breath of fresh air which the polemicist brings to the slightly redundant universe of the French far right.
„It simply came to our notice then. The recapture of the economy, the recapture of security, the recapture of identity, the recapture of sovereignty, the recapture of the country „, sounded the call to arms and at the same time the promise of the new far-right candidate.
But it is certain that, from a foreign policy perspective at least, the dawn of Eric Zemmour, whose overall performance copies the broad outlines of the Trump-type show, comes at a delicate time for the internal coherence of the West. Not that anti-Americanism is something new in certain spheres of French society and politics, but the cosmetic operation that the Zemmour party is preparing for it could result in ugly scars on the face of Europe.
When Zemmour himself spoke on stage, his closest supporters put the equal sign between US and Chinese „imperialism”. It is clear that any previous (or traditional) French irritation towards NATO and Washington could re-emerge.
In fact, in the sprawling Paris „Romexpo” where Eric Zemmour announced what has seemed to be inevitable for some time – his candidacy for the presidential elections in 2022 – the voices at the microphone were swallowed up by the unifying voice of Dimitri Rogozin, Putin’s „institutional” ram, and the Kremlin’s shrill media chorus, echoed by Russian anti-Western propaganda organs, Sputnik, RT.
„Globalization is a killer of nations,” said one of the speakers who warmed up the crowd eagerly waiting for Zemmour. (7,000 was the number announced by the organizers, 13,000 by Le Monde and 15,000 was what Zemmour claimed from the rostrum). But it is not yet clear whether the alternative promised by a France led by its chief polemicist will be a bed of roses.
Worst case scenario
The worst case scenario seems to have already taken shape. Who knows maybe the scuffles before and during Eric Zemmour’s speech were not only a show of his own group’s political testosterone, or a band of militants acting as vigilantes, but a true preview of the “unity” through division that the new candidate and his acolytes prophesy and promote in their discourse and behavior.