It was going to be a glorious Reconquest —the name he gave his party—, but it has ended in a shipwreck like the Invincible Armada. Éric Zemmour’s bid to take over the extreme right in France has sunk less than a year after the launch of the controversial talk show host in the political arena, first with a defeat in the presidential elections and, now, with his elimination in the first round of legislative elections. The same has happened to the rest of the candidates for deputy from his formation.
The survivor on the far right is, once again, Marine Le Pen. Although she is still far from consolidating in power de facto the strength she has at the polls: in the second presidential round, which she lost to Emmanuel Macron in April, she reached 41.4% of the vote, a historic result for her. In the legislative elections, the leader of the National Regroupment (RN) is preparing to get the largest number of deputies of her formation in three decades and dreams of finally forming her own parliamentary group (for which she needs at least 15 seats ). With the fall of Zemmour, Le Pen has managed to touch and sink the most serious threat facing his party and even his career, which many had also considered over five years ago, after his presidential defeat first, and then to get just eight deputies.
“Defeatism does not exist on the ground (…). We are here, we are well, we have a strong dynamic since 2017″, said a resplendent Le Pen this Monday in her northern bastion of Pas de Calais, where a clear victory – and, therefore, a seat – is predicted for her next Sunday. . From Paris, the interim president of the RN, Jordan Bardella, announced that they hope to add between 35 and 40 deputies. “The first round opens, at least, the way to increase the number of seats fivefold” in 2017, he said at a press conference.
The words of both and, above all, their gestures, relaxed and assertive, said it all. Especially if he compares himself with the Zemmourist camp. “The results are not up to our expectations,” acknowledged a distraught Zemmour before a few dozen followers in Cogolin, a small town near Saint Tropez, in the Mediterranean region of the Var, which has been in the hands of the extreme right and that the Parisian journalist chose as a constituency to aspire to a seat.
The image was far removed from the one projected just a few months ago. Last fall, Zemmour was emerging as the great threat from the French extreme right and was already seen at the Elysée. The polls came to place him in second position after Macron and, therefore, capable of qualifying for the second round, unseating Le Pen. “I will be in the second round. Then, either I will be president of the Republic, or leader of the opposition”, he still proclaimed at the beginning of April. His rallies gathered thousands of followers. His ultra speech—anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim—marked the political agenda and even the speech of other candidates. And historical figures of the Lepenist party, beginning with Le Pen’s niece, Marion Maréchal, deserted one after another from the RN to join the Zemmourist ranks.
Barely half a year later, the picture has changed radically. Zemmour, who began to run out of steam at the start of the Ukraine war, came fourth in the presidential race, well behind Macron, Le Pen and the leader of France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose left-wing alliance NUPES has managed to now position itself as the second parliamentary force.
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The hope of regaining breath in the legislative elections has ended in the first round, with the elimination of all the candidates that Reconquista had decided to present on its own, in the face of the absolute refusal of the RN to join forces, as has been done at the other extreme by the left.
“Zemmour’s strategy is at a dead end because it is cartoonish, brutal,” Bardella said Monday.
The debater, however, refuses to throw in the towel. The legislative ones have allowed Reconquista to “plant a flag in each constituency of France,” he assured on Sunday, affirming that his formation is the only one that maintains the conservative identity. “Between a right that dreams of being on the left and a right that dreams of being in the center, Reconquista is the only right that is not ashamed to be on the right, to defend our identity (…) the pride of being French,” he claimed before some cameras that, however, were once again looking for the victorious Le Pen.
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