Eric Zemmour, France’s far-right presidential contender

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eric zemmour

Eric Zemmour, often referred to as France’s version of former U.S. President Donald Trump, has joined the race for the French presidency.

His far-right views are highly controversial and political experts argue he is the biggest political threat to the anti-immigration politician Marine Le Pen ahead of a key election next spring.

French voters will chose their next president in the April vote. Polls indicate that current President Emmanuel Macron will be reunited with far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of the vote. However, as new players announce their candidacies — Zemmour in particular — the outcome of the vote remains highly unpredictable.

″[Zemmour] is the ideal candidate for Macron because he is splitting the vote with Le Pen,” said Tomasz Kamil Michalski, associate professor at H.E.C. Business School.

Michalski said that while Le Pen has been in politics for a while, Zemmour brings no baggage to the election, thus offering an alternative to far-right supporters. He has, however, been involved in a number of court cases over alleged incitement to racial hatred.

Meanwhile, at his first major campaign rally on Sunday, a man reportedly grabbed at his neck amid some clashes between his supporters and anti-racism campaigners. Zemmour has subsequently been signed off work for nine days.

Opinion polls project Zemmour getting 14% of the public vote in the first round of the French presidential vote due in April, and Marine Le Pen receiving 19%. However, there’s plenty of time for voting intentions to change in the coming months.

Who is Zemmour?

Zemmour, 63, a former TV pundit and familiar face to French voters, is best known for his vocal anti-immigration views. These are just some of the reasons why he’s often compared to Trump, who also campaigned on an anti-immigration platform and was a well-known public figure.

However, Rosenberg said that Zemmour’s “attempt to rise to power based on former U.S. President Donald Trump’s social media tactics … will not work in France to the same degree.”

Zemmour, for his part, thinks he has more in common with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who also started his career in the media. However, he also told French media that Trump “succeeded in uniting the working classes and the patriotic bourgeoisie. That’s what I’ve been dreaming about … for 20 years,” Politico reported.

Michalski, though, noted one key difference: “Trump is about himself. But, Zemmour is about the ideology.”