Lack of mayoral support puts Eric Zemmour's run for French president at risk

Far-right candidate is struggling to get the 500 endorsements from elected officials that he needs

Eric Zemmour said he had received around 300-350 pledges, but conceded that they are 'at the moment only promises'. EPA
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Eric Zemmour, the television host turned far-right politician, risks having his French presidential bid sunk before it begins amid a lack of support from local mayors.

To be eligible to stand in the April poll, he must have 500 endorsements from elected officials by mid-March — and he is struggling for numbers.

Zemmour, who has two hate crime convictions, said he had received around 300-350 pledges, but conceded they are “at the moment only promises”. The pool of 42,000 elected French officials includes mayors, MPs and local councillors.

Under a law introduced by former president Francois Hollande in 2016, endorsements are now made public. That may explain why other, non-mainstream candidates are also finding it difficult to hit the 500-person target, including far-right leader Marine Le Pen and hard-left figure Jean-Luc Melenchon. Unlike Zemmour, they both lead political parties.

“The endorsement system is there to prevent far-fetched candidates from running,” Zemmour said. “It's not there to enable established parties to monopolise the election and block rivals.”

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin ruled out any change to the law on Tuesday, saying “you don't change the rules a few days before the match.”

Zemmour only made his entrance to front-line politics last September and is regarded by many as the wild card in this year’s election.

He is currently polling in fourth place with support at 13 per cent, behind Ms Le Pen, The Republicans candidate Valerie Pecresse, and current favourite President Emmanuel Macron — who is widely expected to run despite not yet announcing his candidacy.

Nonetheless, Zemmour was bullish earlier this week at a press conference. Criticising the “politically correct” media, which he said the public was “right to be angry at,” Zemmour said: “In exactly a year, I will invite you to the presidential palace and our relationship will not be the same.”

Updated: January 12, 2022, 12:43 PM