|Eric Zemmour’s Phenomenal Political Rise|
OCT 10, 2021 10:00 AM
BY HUGH FITZGERALD
The writer, essayist, polemicist, journalist, and television personality Eric Zemmour, the author of two brilliant bestsellers — Le Suicide français and the just-published La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot, or “France hasn’t said its last word,” which sold 200,000 copies the first week it appeared in French bookstores — has been upsetting all kinds of apple-carts in French politics. Before he has even declared his candidacy, in a month he has more than doubled, from 7% at the beginning of September to 15% at the beginning of October, the percentage of the electorate that favors him for president. Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen – Zemmour’s chief rival on the Islamocritical right, has in the same period seen a decrease of 6% in the percentage of the electorate that favors her, dropping from 22% to 16%. And she keeps sinking, while Zemmour keeps rising, in the polls, and at 15%, is now running neck-and-neck with Le Pen.
When Zemmour appears on television for interviews with hostile hosts, who interrupt his every second sentence, trying to prevent him from speaking even though he had been invited on, presumably, so that he might explain his positions, he manages nonetheless to keep calm, and to express, lucidly, with force, with eloquence, his fears for the future of France and what he thinks must be done to secure that future. For one example of his ability to deal so effectively with his often aggressive and hostile interlocutors, see this example, an encounter with the abysmal television journalist Jean-Jacques Bourdin. The comments underneath the video are full of praise for Zemmour’s brilliant and superhumanly patient performance in the face of Bourdin’s constant and maddening interruptions. Similar comments can be found at the dozens of videos of Zemmour’s recent appearances – both interviews and debates – on French television. No one has been able to lay a finger on him, to cause him to lose his cool, to depart from his wonted sobriety: not the bien-pensant spouter of commonplace sophistries, Jean-Jacques Bourdin, not the Franco-Arab Léa Salamé, not the far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon. Zemmour goes from televised strength to strength. And with six months to go before the first contest that will determine which two candidates will face each other in the presidential election, he has plenty of time to win over many more of Marine Le Pen’s supporters, to find support, too, among center-right voters who would never have voted for Le Pen, and to approach, or even surpass, Macron’s steady one-quarter of the electorate. The rest of the votes in that first turnout will be divided between the right’s Marine Le Pen, the center-right candidates Xavier Bertrand and Valérie Pécresse, the Communist Jean-Luc Melenchon, and the ecologist candidate, Yannick Jadot.
Emanuel Macron, holding steady in all the polls at between 24% and 27%; appears unlikely to poll higher or lower in the first election. He has always assumed that, as in the 2017 race, his rival would be Marine Le Pen. He certainly wanted her to be the candidate; he handily beat her before and was confident he could beat her again. She is not quick on her feet; her debate with Macron did her little good. Macron never expected the quick-witted intellectual Eric Zemmour to come out of nowhere, to enter politics (he still hasn’t formally declared himself a presidential candidate), and to be his opponent as the newly-anointed head of the Islamocritical right. If Zemmour does keep rising in the polls, as all of a sudden many astonished prognosticators now predict – some with horror, others with joy – he will be the one to face Macron. Those French who fear for the future of their country, of whom there are many, and more every day, should propel Eric Zemmour – cometh the hour, cometh the man — into the presidency.
“Presidential race 2022: Zemmour records a strong surge, Le Pen is weakening and Macron is holding steady,” translated from “Présidentielle 2022 : Zemmour enregistre une forte poussée, Le Pen s’affaiblit et Macron se maintient,” by Dinah Cohen, Le Figaro, October 4, 2021:
SURVEY – If the duel between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen has not yet been called into question, the candidate supported by the RN has dropped by six points in one month.
With less than seven months to go until the presidential election, uncertainty reigns. According to our new Ifop Fiducial survey, carried out for Le Figaro and LCI, the figures, rather stable until now, were struck by a surprise guest: Éric Zemmour. After receiving 7% in our last study in September, the polemicist recorded a clear surge by being credited with 12 to 15% of support from intended voters according to the assumptions on the right.
“This pre-campaign is accelerated by the Zemmour phenomenon, which is indeed a phenomenon and not a media construction,” observes Frédéric Dabi, director of Ifop. “This is an unprecedented breakthrough six months before the vote on the part of someone who does not belong to the political realm and who is still not a candidate,” he adds.
Marine Le Pen “is not dynamic”
In his rise, the former journalist weakens both Marine Le Pen and the right by capturing 18% of the Lepéniste electorate in 2017, and 24% of the Fillonist electorate. “Overall, we see more of a traditional right-wing electorate: elderly, retirees and graduates,” comments Frédéric Dabi.
The Consequence for the candidate supported by the National Rally: Marine Le Pen drops six points in just one month and falls below the symbolic bar of 20%. Only the scenario – which seems unlikely – where Eric Ciotti would be the Republican candidate would allow him to stay at 21%. The contender remains in the lead among Emmanuel Macron’s opponents, and her duel with the latter is not in question. But the former president of the incendiary party “is not in dynamic,” as noted by the director of Ifop.
Emmanuel Macron, on the other hand, largely retains his favorite position. With 24 to 27% of intended voters, the tenant of the Élysée makes a rare performance. “We haven’t seen that since Mitterrand who, at the start of the 1987 election year, was in the lead with even better results,” notes Frédéric Dabi. Above all, “everything is moving around him, whether it is the electoral field on the left or on the right. But he moves very little,” specifies the expert, who emphasizes” a pole of stability in a political landscape which one has never before been so uncertain and fragmented.”
On the right, Xavier Bertrand still keeps his lead against Valérie Pécresse, Michel Barnier and Éric Ciotti. He thus seems the most able to “contain the Zemmour push.” As for the left, the fragmented field does not allow candidates to benefit from any momentum. Recently designated winner of the environmentalist primary, Yannick Jadot (8%) benefits from a “small effect” and “symbolically” climbs ahead of his competitors, but remains within the margin of error, as Frédéric Dabi reminds us.