October 7, 2021 - 9:30am

French polemicist Éric Zemmour is suddenly being taken seriously as a potential threat to Emmanuel Macron in next year’s French presidential election. A Harris Interactive poll published yesterday showed him in second place behind Mr Macron, at 17% to Macron’s 24%, and ahead of Marine le Pen, the leader of the National Rally (formerly the National Front). The same poll suggested he would lose to Mr Macron in the second round, but only by 55% to 45%.

There’s just one hitch: he hasn’t actually declared himself a candidate for president. Asked on the Punchline show on France’s Europe1 on Wednesday whether he would now announce, he demurred:

You need to choose the right moment, you need to be sure about the decision, you need to be sure that you can get there. There are material considerations that go with this kind of adventure… I am a newcomer in this. I am not a party leader who needs to declare himself to finance his associates. My identity is not defined by ‘presidential candidate’ like the others… Of course, these polls do encourage me.
- Éric Zemmour

Asked whether he would now present a concrete programme for government, he again refused to be drawn.

You ask me for concrete proposals. But the presidential election is not an election for prime minister; nor for minister of culture or finance. What is at stake in the presidential election is the future of France. So yes, I make diagnoses; yes, I make sure not to lose myself in proposals. I am trying to ask the questions at the level they need to be asked, where the institutions require it. That is to say: France, her destiny, her fate, her future…

We could have a system like in Germany or Italy, and have a typical election every 5 years, no — what General de Gaulle wanted for France was a “republican monarchy”, and he wanted that so that the presidency could pass above the political parties (“the meeting of a man and a people”, in the famous phrase).. and to situate the political debate at the highest possible level. That is to say, what vision for France, what destiny?

Me, I believe that France is in danger of dying — its civilisation, its culture, its people — so I consider that to be the level of the presidential election. So, you ask me for specific measures — we can talk about those, they interest me, fear not, I will offer them — but now, the moment has not yet come.

- Eric Zemmour