Éric Zemmour announces his candidacy for the French presidency

Éric Zemmour, the anti-immigration polemicist, has announced his candidacy for the French presidency with an appeal to those he believes are despised by elites and felt like strangers in their own country.

“You feel powerless. . . you get the impression of no longer living in the country you know,” he said Tuesday in a YouTube Videos including clips showing black residents of France and scenes of violent protests in the streets. “It is no longer the time to reform France, but to save it.”

Reading the script on his desk in front of a leather-bound bookshelf, Zemmour said: “This country you love is in the process of disappearing. . . Immigration is not the source of all our problems, but it makes it all worse.” He lamented France’s “third world” as well as “Islamic leftism”, “decay” and “decay”.

France will hold presidential elections next April, when President Emmanuel Macron will seek a second term. Zemmour, 63, was at one point in second place fall in the poll behind only Macron without declaring himself a candidate.

The official launch of his campaign comes as his popularity appears to be waning and following a disastrous visit last weekend to the Mediterranean port of Marseille.

He failed to attract supporters on the streets there and reciprocated the gesture when a woman raised her middle finger at him, prompting his political opponents to dismiss him as unworthy of the post of president. system. Zemmour said his response was “very indecent”.

Although his antagonism towards immigrants and non-European Muslims places him on the right with even far-right rival Marine Le Pen and her Rassemblement National party, Zemmour has also attracted attention. support from conservative voters, who often vote for the centre-right.

His relentless focus on immigration helped set France’s political agenda and shifted the debate sharply to the right, as candidates jostled for positions ahead of the general election. Presidential elections and legislative elections take place in June.

Members of the centre-right Les Républicains party will vote for their own candidate this week, and even the LR’s earlier moderate hopes such as Michel Barnier, the former EU Brexit negotiator, has also hardened its rhetoric against migration.

Left-wing parties once prominent in French politics had largely disappeared from view in the first weeks of the campaign, with Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, achieving just 5% of the vote intent. one. That puts her behind Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the far-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), and under Yannick Jadot of the Greens.

Zemmour’s statement drenched nostalgia for the France of the past. The French recall, he said, “the land of Joan of Arc and of Louis XIV, the land of Bonaparte and General de Gaulle, the land of knights and noblewomen, the land of Victor Hugo and Chateaubriand, the land of Pascal and Descartes”.

Jean-François Mbaye, an MP for Macron’s centre-right La République en Marche party, accused Zemmour of being “aping de Gaulle, the one who has to bury him, with a pitiful and banal appeal” while France wants to look to the future.

Fabien Roussel, the Communist Party candidate, said “hate is his profession and his polemic aim” while Mélenchon’s campaign head, Manuel Bompard, mocked Zemmour’s nostalgia and ask on Twitter: “Looks like Zemmour just announced himself as a candidate for the 1965 presidential election?”

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