Eric Zemmour, a far-right journalist and pundit turned politician, has shaken up France’s presidential race before it has even started – and without even officially declaring his candidacy.
Recent opinion polls have put him ahead of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen, sparking speculation that Zemmour may well be the one facing off with President Emmanuel Macron in the April 2022 election.
His predicted vote share in surveys has surged from just 5% to somewhere between 16% to 18% in a matter of months.
Zemmour is a highly divisive individual with ultraconservative views on national identity and has repeatedly spewed reprehensible remarks against Muslims, Islam, migrants, Blacks, and other minorities.
He has also faced action for racist remarks and religious hate speech, including a 2010 sentence for saying that most drug dealers were “Blacks and Arabs.”
He was also fined €3,000 ($3,500) in September 2019 for a hateful rant against Muslims during a television appearance.
Zemmour was born in Paris in 1958 to a Jewish family of Algerian origin that came to France during the Algerian War of Independence.
The 63-year-old started a career in journalism at Quotidien de Paris in 1994, joining right-wing newspaper Le Figaro in 1996.
He was fired from Le Figaro in 2009 for his controversial remarks but started writing a weekly column for Le Figaro Magazine in 2013.
Zemmour has authored books and has been a part of several television programs since the 2000s, giving him a platform to disseminate his contentious views and to gain a large following in France.