Updates on French presidential election
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A well-known TV commentator who is expected to try to fight Emmanuel Macron in next year’s French presidential election has been removed from his regular legal program, under rules that require fair allocation of airtime to politicians.
With the increasing pace of the 2022 election campaign, Eric Zemmour — an anti-immigrant writer and polemicist who is often accused and twice convicted of racial or religious provocation — has been a media focus in recent weeks. attention to heavy tips on his intention to stand against Macron.
CNews, a TV channel controlled by right-wing tycoon Vincent Bolloré who was compared to Fox News in the US, said on Monday that it dropped Zemmour from his four-night-a-week performances following a ruling by the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), which regulates broadcasting.
The program “Facing the news” was a major attraction for the channel and attracts almost 1 million viewers every night.
CNews said it regretted the decision, even though Zemmour did not officially declare himself a candidate because it “deprived millions of viewers of the commentator’s thoughts”.
In its ruling last week, the CSA said that Zemmour “can be seen from now on, given his statements and his actions and the way in which comments are made, as a player in the national political debate” whose airtime should be measured.
In his program that night, Zemmour said that “cowardly” politicians were hiding behind the CSA, which, far from being independent, was under intense pressure from Macron, the government and his party.
Zemmour, 63, is a provocative ‘declinist’ who deplores what he sees as the failures of post-war France and who supports the ‘major replacement’ theory that predicts Muslim immigrants will take over the country from its indigenous people. He has already published a weekly column in the right-wing newspaper Le Figaro.
Opinion polls suggest he has little chance of running in the second round of elections in April if he eventually stands as a candidate — he scored less than 10 percent in the first round of voting, far below half the level of Macron and his right-wing rival Marine Le Pen — but he has become a major factor in the calculations of other candidates.
Political analysts say his conservative views could attract many voters who would otherwise be for Le Pen or for one of the candidates of the center-right Les Républicains (LR) party such as Xavier Bertrand, Valérie Pécresse or Michel barnier.
Such a shift would likely benefit Macron, for whom Zemmour does not hide his contempt.
Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on political extremism, said it was striking how the whole election campaign was’ parasitized ‘by Zemmour and his expected candidacy, which ultimately obliges everyone to position themselves in relation to what he says’.
“The LR candidates like Xavier Bertrand and Valérie Pécresse have sharpened their tone on immigration and law and order because they can see that they will have to say something if Zemmour formalizes his campaign,” Camus said. “Although he is not a politician, as a media personality he sets many themes in the public mind.”