The Rise of Éric Zemmour is the Last Sign of a Shift to the Right in French Politics

Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science, on French media pundit and presidential candidate Éric Zemmour:

On November 30, the far-right pundit Éric Zemmour announced that he would be candidate to the French presidential election. A journalist and polemicist, he was mostly known for his Islamophobic, xenophobic, racist, and sexist public statements. In fact, only thirteen days before this announcement, he had been on trial for “incitement to racial hatred,” having said on a national television program that unaccompanied foreign minors “have nothing to do here, they're thieves, they're murderers, they're rapists, they must be sent away,” a language that certainly evokes for a U.S. audience a certain media entertainer who successfully turned to politics in recent times.

And indeed, in six months, Zemmour rose from a situation in which his name was not even mentioned in opinion polls to a candidate for whom 17% of the electorate declared they would vote. If it were to be the case, he would come in second in the first round of the election, ahead of the Rassemblement national candidate Marine Le Pen and just behind the President Emmanuel Macron. It would mean that the two men would be opposed in the second round. But Zemmour's spectacular progression is only the last sign of a broader phenomenon in French politics: what, four decades ago, analyzing the evolution of his country, the British sociologist Stuart Hall had famously called a “swing to the right.”

Read more from Fassin at The Guardian.