To say “opinion is divided about Eric Zemmour,” the right-wing candidate for president of France, is an understatement, and we have heard from a number of sensible observers of French politics that Zemmour might not be the best idea. Certainly the mainstream media is as panicked about him as they are about Trump. Some conservative critics say he a lightweight, a poser, the equivalent of Bill O’Reilly, and running chiefly to undermine Marine Le Pen.
One recent poll certainly shows that Le Pen and Zemmour together outpoll Macron:
Thomas Chatterton Williams of The Atlantic writes of witnessing Zemmour “electrify a seething and violent mob,” and suggests Zemmour is an anti-Muslim bigot with this concluding passage:
What would they like to do to these people should they have their way in April? Back at home, catching the rest of the speech that we had missed, we heard the beginning of a not-so-subtle answer. Zemmour had named his new political party Reconquest, evoking the medieval expulsion of Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula.
Philippe Lemoine, writing for the recently founded Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, offers a more favorable view:
However, although he opposes immigration and despite what many people say, he doesn’t have a racial conception of Frenchness, which indeed would be rather weird since he is of non-European descent. He thinks that anyone can be French, no matter their background, but that being French involves adopting French culture and not just having French citizenship. He often criticizes people who claim that, in order to be French, one just has to adhere to human rights and a few other abstract principles. But while he thinks that anyone can in theory be French, he believes that France, which has been unable to assimilate the non-European immigrants who are already here, won’t be able to do so — let alone assimilate newcomers — if we don’t stop immigration. Therefore, he doesn’t attack only illegal immigration, but also and even mainly legal immigration. This includes asylum, which he wants to reduce to a few hundred people a year at most, citing Japan as his model because it only accepted 47 refugees in 2020.
Apart from immigration, Zemmour is a traditional conservative on most issues, but unlike most conservative politicians — who are far more liberal than their voters and say a lot of things they don’t really mean to get their votes when they’re running for office — there can be no doubt that he truly believes what he says, because he was already saying the same things before he decided to run for president. He is openly and stridently anti-woke, wants to remove what he calls “LGBT ideology” from schools and return to traditional pedagogy, increase the number of places in prison and the severity of sentences, etc. While in the past he has expressed somewhat heterodox views on economics, he is running on a very traditional French right-wing platform, pro-capitalism without being libertarian. . .
There is still a pretty high probability that Zemmour won’t even make it to the second round of the presidential election and, even if he does, Macron remains the overwhelming favorite. However, while it’s still unlikely, I think the hypothesis that Zemmour will be the next president of France is higher than most people realize. If what I said above is right, it’s about 15%, which is low but not so low that it can be totally ignored. Moreover, even if he won, he would still have to defeat the French “Deep State”. This won’t be easy, but Zemmour is better equipped than Trump was to do it, because as I noted above he has a much better understanding of the issues and has access to more people who are qualified to fill his administration. If he somehow managed to do all that, however, I think it would change a lot of things, not just in France but in Europe. In particular, the ideological balance of power in the EU would be deeply transformed, because it’s one thing if a small country like Hungary is governed by a “populist” government but it’s quite another if it’s the second-largest country in the Union and the only one with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Zemmour made another short address for new year’s. Here is the text in its entirety:
My dear countrymen— I’m not going to talk to you in the stilted language of typical new year’s resolutions. The upcoming year will be a very important year, out of those still to be carved into the history of France.
One day, I promise you, our descendants will say of us, “In 2022, they were courageous. They were clearsighted. They were great ones. They measured up to faith their nation put in them. They believed in themselves. They believed in France. They were audacious, intelligent, hardworking and ambitious. They were French.”
They will say of us, “They left behind a nightmare five year term, which was led by a void of a Presidency without form or content, to economic decline, to uncontrolled pandemic, to invasive insecurity, to immigration run wild, to unbridled Islamization— not to speak of the weakening of their identity.”
“And to the amazement of all, they conquered fate. They refused to submit. They took their destiny into their own hands. They turned back political correctness and censorship. They convinced, and they vindicated, and they initiated the Reconquest.”
They will say of us, “They were the generation that refused to play the hypocritical games of professional politicians. They had the courage to see what is real. They had the daring of truth, armed with their history, their traditions, their culture, their way of life— everything that makes them proud. In 2022, they did away with tepidity, wiped out weakness and shattered mediocrity.”
They will say of us, “They were the generation that brought back to an unrivaled nation the grandeur of its independence, the power of its commerce, the dignity of its farmers, the genius of its artisans, the splendor of its industry. They were free men of free France.”
2022 will be the year of our last chance. We cannot give up. We alone have the choice. I need you— your optimism, your enthusiasm, your power of conviction. On the evening of April 24, 2022, we will be renewed— this country with no other equal, that takes pride in belonging to no one, in submitting to no one, that obeys only its own destiny. The road is wide open before us. We just have to win. And we will win, because we have the courage, and we want it. We wanted it before. We have wanted it for so long.
Now, leave doubt and bitterness behind us. Goodby to weakness, resignation and submission. Goodbye, Emmanuel Macron. Hello, France. The Reconquest begins tonight at midnight. The future will be proud of us. Our children and grandchildren will be proud of us.
Happy New Year, from the bottom of my French heart. Long live 2022, long live the Republic, long live the Reconquest, and above all, long live France!