France's ultra-right desert Le Pen for maverick presidential hopeful Éric Zemmour


French far-right doyenne Marine Le Pen, who just months ago appeared in the running to reach the final, second-round play-off in next April’s presidential elections, is now facing a serious challenge for her electoral turf from a maverick presidential contender, the polemicist and TV pundit Éric Zemmour. While he has no party structure behind him, he is increasingly backed by the ultra-right and its ideologues, who feel betrayed by Le Pen’s attempts to purge her party’s more outspoken extremists and paper over its racist image. “I don’t care about demonization,” says fervently anti-Islam Zemmour who, despite his Jewish origins, has garnered the support of notorious anti-Semites. Lucie Delaporte reports.

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As the clock ticks down to France’s presidential elections due in April next year, centre-right President Emmanuel Macron has yet to announce his widely expected re-election bid, but his chances of winning a second term appear increasingly favourable as the divisions open up among his opponents.