The French extreme right is in full battle ahead of the presidential elections in April. So much Marine LePen What Eric Zemmour they want to seize the hegemony of a political spectrum that, today, has many possibilities of facing the current president in a possible second round Emmanuel Macron.
In this war to lead the extreme right, both candidates are throwing claws at each other almost daily, but this Thursday’s has had a special value with its own name: Jerome Rivierepresident of the group of MEPs of the National Regrouping (RN), which has left Le Pen’s ranks to join Zemmour’s campaign. A far-reaching strategic coup less than three months before the appointment with the polls.
Rivière has justified his decision by the pure path of pragmatism, explaining that “Le Pen has no chance of winning” and in this way he has left his functions at the head of the European group of Le Pen’s RN to sign for Reconquista, Zemmour’s party, where from now on he will occupy functions of vice president and campaign spokesperson for the far-right polemicist.
Rivière’s new role is not accidental. After a brutal impact in the polls last fall, when Zemmour came second behind Macron and bordered on 18% of voting intentions, numerous skids have been undermining his campaign for a month to place it behind Le Pen and the conservative Valerie Pecresse. In recent weeks, Le Pen’s attacks have multiplied, who presents herself as a serious candidate with a program and experience in the face of Zemmour’s constant controversies.
Le Pen has been getting with that strategy to turn around the polls and right now he would be about 3 points ahead of Zemmour, 17% to 14% according to the latest poll published by Harris Interactive for the magazine “Challenges” last Wednesday. It is in this context that Zemmour wanted to take a swipe at his rival with the star signing of Rivière.
Rivière justified his decision this Thursday morning on the BFM channel by explaining that after last year’s regional elections, in which the formation of Le Pen lost duels in all regions in favor of socialists and conservatives, he had “the conviction of a glass ceiling that she will never be able to break”. This is a theory often put forward to explain why Le Pen’s formation, both father and daughter, lost the second rounds in the presidential, regional or municipal elections. What is surprising is that it is used at this time, with the campaigns designed less than three months before the presidential ones.
Rivière had words of thanks for Le Pen and above all for his new leader, and underlined that “Zemmour is not a brutal personality” and that it holds the key to breaking the cordon sanitaire between the conservatives and the far right, a strategic key to the possibilities of the populists, a qualification that Rivière himself claims.
Zemmour’s recipe is the commitment to the nostalgia of a glorious past of France to which he would like to return. His France is a country he claims was the Rome of the West, in decline since Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and now teetering on the brink of civil war and extinction. When Zemmour affirms that Islam is incompatible with France or proposes to ban names distant from a Judeo-Christian root like Mohamed, he appeals to this feeling of a country adrift.
This move to change the ranks of Jérôme Rivière in the extreme right comes a week after the French government decided to dissolve a far-right group pointed out as being responsible for the attacks against a group of anti-racist activists during the opening rally of the Zemmour campaign last December near Paris. As announced by the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, the reasons for the decision are calls for “hatred and violence” made by the twenty members of the Zouaves Paris group.
To reclaim his national story, Zemmour has come to vindicate Philippe Pétain, the leader of France who collaborated with the Nazis in the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz and other camps, precisely from Drancy, a 20-minute walk from where he grew up. Le Pen already distanced himself from all of this when he began his process of demonizing the National Front, spawn of the National Regroupment, cutting ties with his father.