“It is no longer time to reform France, but to save it. That is why I decided to run for president”, said the former journalist in a video speech broadcast on his Youtube channel, transparent reference to a famous shot of General de Gaulle, interspersed in particular with images of attacks and urban violence.
“You have the impression that you are no longer in the country you know”, he told the tens of thousands of people connected at noon (11 a.m. GMT) to listen to him, recounting key figures in French history and culture, Joan of Arc, De Gaulle, Pascal, Descartes , Molière ….
Speaking to those affected by a “feeling of dispossession” why “country that you seek everywhere with despair, this country that you cherish and which is disappearing”, he tells them to have “decided to take our destiny in hand” and let go of any shame they may feel for having these ideas.
And to list the reasons for this decline: immigration which “is not the cause of all our problems even if it makes them all worse”, the “chimera of a Europe which will never be a nation”, politicians of all stripes ….
Four and a half months before the election, the former columnist for the daily Le Figaro and the CNews channel, the “Fox News française”, twice convicted of incitement to racial hatred, throws himself into the arena after several months of an unofficial campaign, carried out as part of a tour to promote his latest book.
The object of exceptional media attention, the 63-year-old polemicist, even before being a candidate, had made a dazzling breakthrough in the polls since the start of the school year, even ahead of the head of the far right Marine Le Pen, finalist in the second round of the 2017 election against Emmanuel Macron.
But he has been accumulating setbacks for several weeks, losing support and points in the polls, which settle around 14 to 15% of voting intentions in the first round, and increasing the slippages: a virulent speech held in front of the Bataclan on the anniversary evening the 2015 jihadist attacks in Paris, a calamitous visit to Marseille (south), which ended with an exchange of fingers of honor with an opponent, or a gun pointed in the direction of journalists during a visit to a military lounge.
He will hold his first real campaign meeting on Sunday at the Zénith in Paris.
By declaring himself Tuesday, the polemicist, who aims to bring together right-wing and far-right voters, parasitizes the process of investiture underway within the republican right, where activists are called to vote from Wednesday to Saturday. to choose from five suitors.
The latter also hold their last debate on television Tuesday evening, just after the 8 pm newspaper during which Mr. Zemmour will be interviewed.
Removal of land rights
The supporters of Zemmour pride themselves on having already weighed on the themes of the campaign, particularly on the fight against immigration, a subject of predilection for the essayist, with his criticisms of Islam, a “civilisation” let him judge “incompatible with the principles of France”.
The beginnings of his future program promise a referendum on immigration, the abolition of land rights or family reunification and the ban on having a first name of foreign origin, a proposal that has aroused the indignation of the political class in France and fueled the debates for several weeks.
His far-right rival Marine Le Pen, whom he claimed she would never win “never“the presidential election, regularly marks its difference by contesting the “displaced radicalism” of the polemicist, who according to her did not “its moult “ as a candidate.
Ms. Le Pen, who has worked for years to demonize her party and erase its excesses, recently welcomed the fact that Mr. Zemmour allowed her to “recenter” on the political spectrum.
The latter, who says he admires Donald Trump, recalls the former US president in his provocations and his excesses, but, unlike the Republican billionaire, does not enjoy the support of a large party.
The constitution of a network on the ground will also be one of its many challenges, if only to obtain the 500 sponsorships of elected officials necessary for a presidential candidacy. His camp ensures to rely on 250 to 300 sponsorship pledges.
Eric Zemmour is, moreover, accused of sexual assault according to several testimonies of women collected by the information site Mediapart. But no complaint has been announced against him.