Skip to content
(From left) Eric Zemmour; supporters at a rally in Metz on March 18.

(From left) Eric Zemmour; supporters at a rally in Metz on March 18.

Photographer: Thaddé Comar for Bloomberg Businessweek

By Any Memes Necessary: How the Far Right Took Over France’s Election

Eric Zemmour’s tactics pushed nativism to the center of the campaign—and show how social media platforms have done little to stop misinformation.

“I am ready to carry the voice of the silent majority,” Eric Zemmour shouts at a rally in Metz, France. “They are trying to steal this election from you.”

It’s March 18, less than four weeks before polls open. Zemmour is rallying a crowd of several thousand, largely composed of White men. He glides through the audience, reaches out to touch their hands, then raises his arms in a “V” for victory as they roar with delight. His face—mostly forehead, with bushy eyebrows and a smile that curves up on the left—is instantly recognizable thanks to his long career as a TV news pundit and, more recently, his presence on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. He’s fourth in the polls, but the polls are hardly the point.