PARIS — French right-wing firebrand Eric Zemmour is rising in opinion polls ahead of France’s 2022 presidential election just as Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right National Rally party, is taking a hit.
One poll published Tuesday suggested controversial Zemmour, an author and TV pundit, would get 10 percent of the vote in a presidential election, compared with only 19 percent for the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
The presidential election in France is a two-round system, with the main two candidates going to a runoff vote. Until now the populist National Rally candidate had been polling above 20 percent, often neck and neck with French President Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the election.
According to the same poll, Zemmour, who is not yet officially a candidate, has overtaken opponents on the left, the Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo at 7 percent and the Green hopeful Yannick Jadot also at 7 percent.
“It’s a poll that feels like an explosion,” wrote the weekly magazine Challenges, who commissioned the research. “The TV celebrity appears to be pushing Marine Le Pen down and completely changing the game.”
A separate poll published this week put Zemmour at 8 percent ahead of the election’s first round, with most of the voting intentions coming from Le Pen supporters, according to polling agency Elabe.
Other recent polls have shown a drop in support for Le Pen, whose attempts to make the far-right National Rally party more mainstream have come under fire.
Recently, Zemmour has repeatedly attacked Le Pen and cast her as being incapable of beating Macron.
Speaking on BFMTV on Wednesday, Zemmour said he “had nothing against Marine Le Pen but everyone knows, and I think she knows, that she cannot win.”
“She will not win, she was humiliated in 2017,” he added referring to Le Pen’s stunning breakdown during a key presidential debate against Macron.
This week, Zemmour made headlines again when he suggested foreign names should be banned for French-born babies as a way of improving the assimilation of foreigners in French.