Éric Zemmour, specialist in far-right television, candidate for the French presidency

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Eric Zemmour, a controversial French far-right television expert who has been convicted of inciting racial hatred, said he would run for president next spring, saying he wanted to “save” traditional France from ” disappearance “.

In a 10-minute video posted to social media, Zemmour sat at a desk reading a speech in front of an old-fashioned microphone, designed to sound like Charles de Gaulle’s famous June 1940 show in occupied France by the Nazis – angering the traditional Gaullist on the right.

On a Beethoven soundtrack, the video jumped over unexplained clips of riots and CCTV footage of fighting, as well as women wearing headscarves, black men in the subway, sportsmen kneeling and prayers in the street. Zemmour declared: “It is no longer time to reform France, but to save it. That’s why I decided to run for president.

Images of the Palace of Versailles and clips from the films of Joan of Arc and Napoleon illustrated what Zemmour considered to be the former glory of France. French media reported that at least one film company was investigating the legal issue of rights to use certain footage.

Zemmour, a former newspaper columnist who has no political party or electoral experience, has been attacked by historians for claiming that Nazi collaborator Marshal Philippe Pétain saved French Jews rather than aiding in their deportation to the death camps. He has been described by the French Minister of Justice as a dangerous racist and Holocaust denier. Human rights groups and anti-racist organizations have condemned his presence on the political scene. His latest trial for incitement to racial hatred opened this month in a television appearance last year when he called unaccompanied migrant children “thieves, killers and rapists.”

His official announcement of his presidential race comes after widespread media coverage and a meteoric rise in opinion polls this fall – as some have shown he could advance to the final round against President Emmanuel Macron . But polls in recent weeks have shown that his position is starting to slide.

A Harris Interactive poll on voting intentions released on Tuesday, which polled people before Zemmour confirmed his candidacy, showed it down three to four percentage points to around 13% for the first round of the election. April presidential election.

Opinion polls have shown that while he could pick voters from the far-right Marine Le Pen and the traditional right-wing Les Républicains party, he was seen by voters as having neither presidential status nor competence. Over the weekend, he was pictured giving a middle finger to a protester in Marseille, leading right-wing critics to criticize him for being impulsive.

On a recent tour to promote his latest book on the supposed decline of the nation, Zemmour claimed that immigration and Islam would destroy the country and warned of a “war of the races.” At book signing sessions, he argued that the “heterosexual white man” was threatened by ethnic minorities and a so-called “gay lobby”.

Zemmour’s election announcement did not include any concrete proposition or proposition – he said he believed a president’s role was to give “vision” and not go into detail. He still has to collect 500 signatures of elected officials to run, as well as raise funds, which could prove difficult.

Fabien Roussel, the presidential candidate of the French Communist Party, has said he will present a parliamentary resolution this week aimed at preventing anyone found guilty of inciting racial hatred from running for office.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal called Zemmour something of a fake Trump.

Sébastien Chenu, of the far-right Le Pen National Rally, which could lose voters to Zemmour, said: “We don’t see him bringing anything new. “

Zemmour’s announcement was deliberately made just before Nicolas Sarkozy’s Les Républicains began a four-day internal vote on Wednesday to choose his presidential candidate.

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