Courteous and muscular exchanges in turn. Eric Zemmour, far-right candidate for the 2022 presidential election, confronted the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire during a debate, in the political program “Elysée 2022” on France 2, Thursday evening December 9 . They clashed head-on over the economic state of the country, its history and Islam. It was the first political duel of the far-right candidate since his official declaration of candidacy for the presidential election on Tuesday, November 30.
“I won’t let this go!” “
Asked first about the economic aspect and the existence or not of a downgrading of the country, described by Mr. Zemmour, the Minister of the Economy replied clearly “That there is no major downgrading of France”, without denying some “Difficulties of the French”. Boasting the economic record of Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term, he added:
“My deep conviction is that we are in the process of regaining the level of growth, the level of employment, the level of reindustrialisation that we had during the “thirty glorious”. »
And to launch, supporting figures: “ I think we should all feel a sense of pride for the French. ” Eric Zemmour opposed him the argument that “ all the countries of Europe have seen their unemployment rate drop ”, and that it is not, according to him, an exploit of France, which would be seen ” in reality ” downgraded on the European scene, concluding: ” You who were a brilliant student, as a minister, you are rather a dunce. “
If the two debaters remained relatively calm in advancing technical arguments on the economy, they did not fail to throw a few spades. Mr. Le Maire notably denounced ” Errors “ in the data put forward by Mr. Zemmour. The latter described the minister as“Employee of the Brussels Commission”. “I won’t let this go!” I am in the service of the French Republic and I am in the service of the French and I am nobody’s employee ”reacted Bruno Le Maire.
Eric Zemmour also explained that he wishes to attack the Constitutional Council by referendum, “To impose themselves on him” and “Restore the power of the people”, by reducing its prerogatives. “In my conception of democracy, Sir, the President of the Republic does not have all the full powers”, replied Bruno Le Maire.
“The big replacement is a fantasy”
The two debaters then evoked the French identity, in particular the xenophobic and conspiratorial theory of the “great replacement” carried in this campaign by the candidate of the extreme right, before switching to a historical debate which had become heated.
“I think the ‘big replacement’ is a fantasy”, said the Minister of the Economy, before condemning Mr. Zemmour’s remarks on Muslims and Islam:
“When you say that a Muslim will have to choose between Islam and France, you deny him the possibility of calmly practicing his faith while participating in the Republic and while being in the Republic a completely respected and esteemed citizen. And this is where we diverge deeply in the background. “
When the minister then addressed the controversy surrounding the Jewish children Arie and Gabriel Sandler, murdered by terrorist Mohammed Merah in 2012, described in Eric Zemmour’s latest book as “Foreigners above all and wanting to remain so beyond death” because buried in Israel, the far-right candidate got carried away and refuted having made these words, however written.
“I am horrified by what I heard”
“It is the real difference which makes that you will never be President of the Republic: it is that you do not accept your words”, assen Bruno Le Maire, before continuing: “ The coherence of my political life is very simple, it is to always fight against the extreme right. (…) The debate we just had (…) confirms the urgent need to fight against you. “” It’s a source of pride “, Eric Zemmour replied.
The minister also accused the latter of “Rehabilitate the Vichy regime”, doing “By Pétain the defender of French Jews”. “I am not a Pétainist”, “I am absolutely not rehabilitating the Vichy regime”, most “France was in London” with “General de Gaulle”, so “France has no responsibility for the Vél ‘d’Hiv roundup, it was the Germans who imposed it”, Eric Zemmour let go.
“I am horrified by what I heard. René Bousquet, Paris police prefect, and Pierre Laval all knowingly and voluntarily participated ” to deportation “And not under the orders of the Nazi regime”, replied the Minister.
“You should cry rather than defend the Vichy regime”, continued Bruno Le Maire, asking Eric Zemmour if he would be ready to resume the speech of the Vél ‘d’Hiv by Jacques Chirac, in 1995, to recognize the responsibility of the French State in the deportation of the Jews, this that his opponent refuted.
Eric Zemmour describes SOS-Racism activists as “provocateurs”
Ahead of the debate, the far-right candidate for the 2022 presidential election answered journalists’ questions. Asked in particular about the middle finger he sent to a woman demonstrating against his coming to Marseille at the end of November, a gesture condemned by the entire political class, Mr. Zemmour refused to apologize and justified himself. by its character: “Me, I am a Mediterranean and in addition a passionate. “
On the violence that broke out during his meeting in Villepinte, Sunday, December 5, when SOS racism activists carried out a happening before being beaten by certain members of the public of Mr. Zemmour, the latter compared the situation to a football match : “Imagine the supporters of Paris-Saint-Germain who meet at the Stade-Vélodrome in Marseille, right in the middle, and who insult the Marseille team, they would be received! “
He went on to explain that the activists of SOS-Racisme, which he describes as « provocateurs », “Did not have to be there”, before adding that the violence that followed, “Honestly, it happens” and « [s]he activists are very calm ”.
Eric Zemmour also felt that he did not have “To call people” to be vaccinated, despite his status as a candidate for the presidential election, before asserting: “I am not the government, I am not the president”, “I am not a doctor”.