Thousands cheer on arsonist Eric Zemmour at ‘show of force’ rally in Paris – POLITICO

PARIS — First-time voters, disappointed National Rally supporters and former Conservatives were among tens of thousands who gathered in Paris on Sunday to show their support for Eric Zemmour.

After polls in April’s presidential election pointed to a second-round duel between far-right leader Marine Le Pen and incumbent Emmanuel Macron, Zemmour tried to revive his voters at a mega-rally in Paris.

“We are the most determined in France. We are the strongest on the internet. We are most active at political rallies. Now that we’re rising, who can stop us?” he asked the cheering crowd at a cleverly produced gathering of big screens, music and emotional testimonies.

“We did in three months what other politicians couldn’t do in 15 years. We have 14 days left to do what no one else has been able to do,” he told followers, who chanted back, “It’s us, it’s us, it’s us.”

Zemmour, who struggles with the promise of a no-compromise approach to immigration, Islam and security, argued that voting for him was “crucial” to save France, as opposed to a wasted vote for Le Pen.

Macron is expected to receive 28 percent of the vote, according to POLITICO polls, compared to 19 percent for Le Pen, 14 percent for Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the extreme left and 11 percent for Zemmour. Macron is also expected to win a runoff against Le Pen.

Not like the others

Some of the audience had traveled from far away to show their support for Zemmour, the former journalist who only emerged as a presidential candidate late last year.

Michelle, a Normandy pensioner and former Le Pen supporter, said Zemmour gave her a renewed enthusiasm for politics and that she traveled to Paris to help him win the “war of images” against his opponents.

“He stands out from everyone else,” she said. “He loves France, the others have long forgotten that. He is proud of France and wants to defend his honor.”

“Zemmour comes from nowhere, he’s not a politician, he’s fighting to make sure France doesn’t go away. Everyone else promises things just to get elected.”

The gathering, held in Trocadéro Square in front of the Eiffel Tower, also attracted many young first-time voters drawn to what they called Zemmour authenticity.

“He’s a real patriot and has some good ideas to save France,” said Baptiste Vilmin, a metalworker from Champagne. “And he’s not a professional politician, his attitude is different.”

Vilmin, who came to the rally with a friend, also believed Zemmour would go against the polls’ predictions in the final weeks of the campaign. “I think people will wake up, he can get through to them, there’s an energy around him,” he said.

Many in the audience shared the suspicion that pollsters, mainstream media and professional politicians were trying to destroy France.

This suspicion was echoed by Zemmour during his hour-long speech, when he berated the politicians and news organizations who are spreading “disinformation” about his election chances.

“[Looking back] People will say that … politicians did everything they could to make us believe the election was a done deal, but we refused to submit and took our fate into our own hands.”

Macron in particular was the target of displeasure. As Zemmour rattled off a list of terrorist attacks over the past few years to illustrate the uncertainty and the need for a more radical approach to crime, there were chants of “Macron assassins! Macron Assassin!” in the audience.

With his particular brand of populism, Zemmour hopes to attract disenchanted voters from both the conservative Les Républicains and the far-right National Rally. Trocadéro Square is a symbolic place for conservatives, an area where former conservative candidates have held rallies in the past.

But while Zemmour’s allies still hope that abstaining could increase their champion’s chances, many are already plotting defeat.

“We’re not talking about winning 10 percent of the vote, we’re talking 2-3 points here, 2 points there,” said an ally who left the National Rally to join Zemmour.

“If Zemmour loses the election, our project [for gathering the conservatives and the far-right] It’s not over yet, it will just take longer,” the ally said.

Meanwhile, a whirlwind tour of the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe proved more complicated than expected for Zemmour’s rival Le Pen. On Saturday was the candidate for the National Rally insulted by the left Demonstrators during an interview at their hotel. Thousands cheer on arsonist Eric Zemmour at 'show of force' rally in Paris - POLITICO

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