French far-right media pundit Eric Zemmour has confirmed that he will run for president in next year’s election with a dramatic video pledging to ‘save France.’
Zemmour, 63, adopted a pose that was clearly based on wartime leader Charles De Gaulle as he sat behind a desk and spoke into an old-fashioned microphone.
‘It’s no longer the time to reform France, but to save it,’ he said, adding that his fellow French citizens ‘no longer recognise our country.’
Theatrics are expected from the married father-of three who has made headlines over the last few months for pointing a rifle at a reporter, sticking his middle finger up at a female heckler, and for a secret lovechild with his 28-year-old PA.
He even went on trial in Paris earlier this month for calling migrants ‘thieves, rapists and murderers’ and has two previous convictions for spreading racial hatred.
Zemmour, 63, adopted a pose that was clearly based on wartime leader Charles De Gaulle as he sat behind a desk and spoke into an old-fashioned microphone
Eric Zemmour, 63, (pictured in Marseille on Saturday) has dominated the pre-election calendar with his strident language and knocked Marine Le Pen aside as Emmanuel Macron’s challenger
Married Zemmour tried in vain to have the news he is expecting a baby with his 28-year-old PA Sarah Knafo (pictured with him in Marseille) out of the papers
Zemmour is up against Marine Le Pen, far-right Rassemblement National party leader (right), to get into the second round of the presidential election. Both are looking to usurp the current centrist French President Emmanuel Macron (left)
In the video, Zemmour paid tribute to his heroes who range from Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle to Brigitte Bardot, the retired sex symbol actress, and Johnny Hallyday, the late Elvis impersonator.
Though Zemmour has previously teased his ambitions, the official announcement will confirm that he believes he has the finances and backing to dislodge Macron and outshine veteran far-right leader Le Pen in next April’s election.
A member of his entourage told AFP on Monday that ‘a message to the French will be broadcast on our social networks’ at around noon on Tuesday, before Zemmour goes on TF1 television.
Several members of his inner circle started tweeting using the hashtag #Zemmourcandidat (Zemmour candidate).
He is due to hold his first official campaign meeting on Sunday morning in Paris – anti-fascists and unions have already pledged to hold a ‘silence Zemmour’ protest at 1pm in the French capital.
Dubbed the ‘French Trump’, last Friday it was revealed that he is to have a baby with his PA, Sarah Knafo, after he took legal action against Closer magazine to prevent them from running the story.
The privacy application was thrown out of court and the magazine ran with the headline: ‘He’s going to be a daddy in 2022’.
In a previous issue in October, Closer featured a photo of Zemmour with a picture of his wife, lawyer Mylene Chichportich, whom he married in 1982.
The couple have three grown-up children together, leading to journalists claiming there was public interest in knowing about his relationship with Knafo.
It has also been speculated that Knafo’s presence at Zemmour’s side – she has frequently been pictured at campaign events – will make him appear more virile to voters.
Acid-tongued Zemmour is hoping his radical pitch on curbing immigration and Islam in France will appeal to conservatives in a country riven with racial and religious tensions.
He has also popularised a conspiracy theory backed by white supremacists known as ‘the great replacement theory’ which posits that native Europeans are being deliberately replaced by immigrants from Africa and the Middle East.
Eric Zemmour, 63, took legal action to try and prevent Closer from publishing details of his secret affair with Sarah Knafo, 28. But the privacy application was thrown out of court and on Friday the magazine ran with the headline: ‘He’s going to be a daddy in 2022’
The cover of a September issue of magazine Paris Match which shows Eric Zemmour embracing aide Sarah Knafo as they swam in the sea
French far-right media pundit Eric Zemmour (L) and his advisor Sarah Knafo (R) pose during a photo session in Paris on April 22, 2021
‘The great replacement is neither a myth, nor a conspiracy, but a relentless process,’ he wrote in his latest book entitled ‘France Has Not Said Its Final Word’.
A survey last month suggested a majority of French people (61 percent) agreed that it was going to happen.
Opinion polls showed support for Zemmour shooting up in September and October, briefly making him the best-placed rival to Macron, but his popularity appears to have faded over the last month.
The latest survey put Zemmour third in the first round of voting at 14-15 percent, down 2-3 points from the start of November, according to research from the Ifop group published in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday.
He trailed Macron on 25 percent and Le Pen on 19-20 percent.
With these scores, they would both advance to a second-round runoff which Macron would win if the vote were held now, the survey indicated.
Analysts stress that the outcome of the election remains highly uncertain with the main right-wing Republicans party only set to announce its nominee this Saturday and many voters yet to make up their minds.
Pundits have speculated for months about the impact of Zemmour’s decision to give up his lucrative career as a media pundit and author in favour of becoming a wildcard in the presidential race.
One possibility is that he and Le Pen eliminate each other by splitting the far-right vote in the first round on April 10, although no polls currently indicate this is likely to happen.
French far-right media pundit Eric Zemmour gestures towards a woman who insulted him as he leaves in his car after a visit in Marseille, southern France, on November 27, 2021
In scenes posted on social media, Mr Zemmour could be seen brandishing a sniper rifle in the direction of journalists at a Paris gun fair, without making any safety checks whatsoever. Pictured: Still grabs from a video of the incident a Paris gun fair showing Zemmour looking down the scope of the rifle before pointing it at the press on Wednesday
Le Pen is sounding newly confident, claiming that the ‘dust is starting to settle’ after an early media blitz by her rival, who is the son of Algerian Jewish migrant parents.
‘I think he’ll end up below 10 percent,’ she told AFP on November 20.
Zemmour ‘might end up being a stroke of luck’, she said. ‘With the violence and brutality that he expresses, he makes my project seem more reasonable and implementable.’
As well as facing softening polling numbers, the amateur historian has been plagued by difficulties in recent weeks.
At the weekend, he was photographed giving a middle finger to a protester who approached his car.
‘Real deep!’ he was overheard saying in a gesture that made headlines around the country and led to suggestions he might have alienated some of the elderly, conservative Catholic voters who form his core support.
Other influential far-right figures have distanced themselves from him in recent weeks, and his campaign team is said to be riven with infighting and dominated by young activists with little political experience.
‘I don’t support this candidacy which is tainted by desperation,’ former campaign aide Pierre Meurin told L’Express magazine on Monday.
‘You need to offer people some dreams, and not only blood and tears.’