French nationalist Zemmour courts Le Pen’s lieutenants
A top aide to French nationalist leader Marine Le Pen is seeking to unite her supporters and those of far-right firebrand Eric Zemmour behind a common candidate.
Nicolas Bay, a Le Pen campaign spokesman, on Sunday called for the camps to be united under a single banner.
“The time will come for us to come together, if we want to avoid having Emmanuel Macron in the Elysee palace for another five years,” he said during a televised interview with LCI. Asked who should lead this bid between Le Pen or Zemmour, Bay said “voters will settle the question.”
Zemmour, a former journalist who has been condemned for inciting racial hatred, has roiled Le Pen’s third consecutive bid for the presidency. Polls initially saw her facing President Macron in the second round of the election, echoing the 2017 duel. But as Le Pen has moved to woo more moderate voters, Zemmour has captured some of her electorate, with several recent defections.
Le Pen’s niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, who has connections to Zemmour’s campaign, recently said she would not support her aunt - a declaration Le Pen called “brutal” and “tough.”
Some of Le Pen’s supporters have recently suggested that Bay is mulling a defection to Zemmour’s campaign, which he has so far denied.
“If Marine Le Pen makes it to the runoff against Emmanuel Macron I will of course support her,” he said Sunday. “But I don’t consider Eric Zemmour to be an enemy -- he defends ideas that are close to ours and mine.”
Polls consistently give Macron around 25% in the first round, followed by Le Pen and traditional right-wing candidate Valerie Pecresse, who are competing for the No. 2 position with around 17%. Zemmour is polling around 12%.
So far, neither Zemmour nor Le Pen have shown any sign that they are ready to give up on their run. Le Pen’s party recently said it obtained a 10.6 million euro bank loan for the campaign despite initial struggles to raise funds, in a sign that her candidacy is seen as serious.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.