A far-right commentator and journalist announced his candidacy for president on Tuesday by using xenophobic imagery belittling multicultural France.
After a weeks-long media blitzkrieg, high-profile appearances, visits to several French cities and European countries, Eric Zemmour formally confirmed rumors about his candidacy for the 2022 election with a video on social media.
The writer, journalist, and self-proclaimed political pundit said he decided to “take the fate in his hands as no politician would have the courage to save the country from the tragic fate.”
“It is no longer time to reform France, but to save it which is why I have decided to run for the presidential election,” he said.
The 10-minute video clip featuring references of "new France" with immigrants of color, violence on the streets, protests alongside "old France" of philosophers, scientists, architectural heritage, rich culture of cinema and literature, heavily dwelled on the far-right themes of an immigrant invasion and restoring the nation’s glorious past.
“You have not moved, yet you feel you are no longer home ... you feel you are a foreigner ... you are exiled within your own country. The feeling of dispossession is shared by all. France is no longer France,” he said.
But Zemmour pointed out that anti-immigration was not the only topic on his agenda.
"Immigration is not the heart of all our problems, but it worsens it,” he said. “You often have trouble making ends meet ... We must relaunch our productive apparatus, encourage work, and education.”
Zemmour has been a fixture in news debates and television show discussions about his provocative and controversial views on Islam, immigration, racism, women, human rights and French politics.
He considers himself a whistle-blower, and a truth-sayer who is not afraid to mince words for the sake of political diplomacy.
His announcement that he is running for the highest public office was panned by politicians from across party lines. Emmanuel Macron government spokesman Gabriel Attal branded Zemmour a cheap version of former US President Donald Trump. He is "Trump ordered on Wish,” said Attal, referencing the online shopping website.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin criticized the video in the National Assembly as "absolutely despicable.”
Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party and presidential candidate, who is seen as a rival to Zemmour, said she found his speech “backward-looking."
Socialist party leader Olivier Faure said Zemmour’s appearance resembled late President Charles de Gaulle but the content was inspired by Philip Petain, chief of the authoritarian and xenophobic Vichy government aligned with the Nazis in World War II.
“France does not deserve this sinister staging,” he said./aa