France | 01/31/2022

France 2022 January

Key developments

In January 2022, Eric Zemmour’s popularity seems to have lost its momentum and rather decreases, as he now ranks 4th according to the latest polls for the upcoming presidential elections in April this year. Nevertheless, this month has seen several personalities leaving their respective parties to join Zemmour’s ranks, including the second-highest executive of the right-wing party Les Républicains (LR) and three key Rassemblement National (RN) executives, one of them being Damien Rieu (Damien Lefèvre), RN member and figure of the French Identitarian movement. Marion Maréchal (ex-Le Pen) also quietly voiced her support for the Reconquête! candidate, despite her historical family connection with the RN. More defections are expected, what testifies, besides political opportunism, of Zemmour’s success to pull the political debate further to the right and comes to shake the “de-evilised” façade of the RN. It also shows a certain success of Reconquête!’s strategy to “unify the Rights”, around an educated bourgeois and masculine crowd who funds the movement, benefiting from the support from the identitarian scene.

Eric Zemmour was convicted this month for the third time for incitement to hate and violence based on one’s origins, as he described immigrating unaccompanied minors as “thieves”, “rapists” and “murderers” in 2020. He awaits another trial for contesting a crime against humanity as he claims that Pétain, who collaborated under German occupation during World war two, “saved Jews”.

On January 5, Les Zouaves, a violent activist group, reportedly involved in the assault of anti-racist activists at Zemmour’s first campaign meeting in December 2021, was dissolved by the French government for incitement to hate and violence and spread racist and neo-Nazi ideologies. This did not prevent its reported leader Marc de Cacqueray-Valmenier to participate in an anti-covid vaccination pass demonstration in Paris, which led to his incarceration as he was not allowed to attend such an event due to his conviction in a different legal case.

January 15 and 16 were indeed the theatre of several demonstrations with a strong far-right presence. Saturday 15, Florian Philippot (Les Patriotes) called for an anti-covid vaccination pass demonstration in Paris. Identitarians, nationalists and hooligan groups attended and even formed their own section in the demonstration. They named it “White block” and claimed on the Telegram channel Ouest Casual to have gathered 200 activists (see picture 1). During this demonstration, AFP journalists were assaulted and insulted. As we enter 2022 with new far-right violence, check out Rapports de Force’s updated 2021 map of far-right violence.

Later that day, the organisation Paris Fierté, close to the dissolved Génération Identitaire, organised its yearly torchlight procession to celebrate the protector of Paris, Saint Geneviève. This march was clearly organised by former Génération Identitaire members but seemingly tolerated by the authorities despite the dissolution of the organisation in March 2021. The next day, on Sunday 16, the yearly “March for Life” demonstration took place in Paris too, gathering traditional conservative anti-abortion activists, but also the more radical far-right fringe such as the nationalist and antisemitic Yvan Benedetti (see picture 2) or the organisation Civitas.

International links

Jordan Bardella, RN president during Marine Le Pen’s campaign, complimented the Portuguese André Ventura for rising to third place with its party Chega at the recent legislative elections. At this time, on January 29, Marine Le Pen attended a two-day summit in Madrid with her European counterparts to discuss further the terms of creating a broader far-right/populist alliance within the EU. This gathering, led by the party Vox, was a third of the kind, after being initiated in July 2021 and continued in Warsaw in early December. The goal is to reform the EU in order to reinforce national sovereignty and traditional conservative values.

The student union La Cocarde Étudiante, inaugurated an official alliance with two other European student unions: the Spanish Revolution, and the Italian FUAN-Azione Universitaria. The aim is to defend the European Universities and youth against a perceived left-wing cultural hegemony.