A conservative French MP defected from his party to support the hard-Right presidential hopeful Eric Zemmour on Sunday, saying the former TV pundit was the “only candidate” capable of beating incumbent Emmanuel Macron.
Guillaume Peltier, 45, who until last spring was the vice president of the centre-Right Les Républicains (LR) party, said he had “no faith” in his party’s presidential candidate, Valerie Pécresse.
“Valerie Pécresse is Emmanuel Macron,” Mr Peltier said in an interview on Sunday morning.
Mr Zemmour is “the only candidate capable of bringing together all Right-wing voters”, he added.
Mr Peltier, a former member of the far-Right National Rally party, is hoping his support for Mr Zemmour will help persuade the more conservative members of the LR party to follow suit.
Defending his decision, he insisted he was amongst “the first, but not the last” to defect, warning “this is the beginning of a rising wave”.
Although his announcement is not a surprise given his political views, it is likely to be touted as a victory by Mr Zemmour, who is currently polling several points behind his two other competitors, Ms Pécresse and Marine le Pen, the leader of the National Rally party.
Mr Zemmour, a regular pundit on the conservative CNews television network who has twice been sanctioned for inciting racial hatred, is running a campaign focused heavily on anti-immigration rhetoric, Euroscepticism and a sharp defence of traditional French values.
Sunday’s announcement all but severed Mr Peltier’s ties with the LR party. In a post on Twitter, Christian Jacob, the president of LR, said: “Guillaume Peltier has returned to his roots by joining Eric Zemmour. He, therefore, is excluded from our political family and can no longer claim to be a part of it.”
Guillaume Peltier said he had ‘no faith’ in Valerie Pécresse, the presidential candidate for Les Républicains Credit: CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images
Eric Ciotti, who came first in the LR’s primary vote last year before being defeated by Valerie Pécresse, said he was “disappointed” and that he was “making a serious mistake”.
Mr Peltier was already in a shaky relationship with the centre-Right party. He was forced to step down from his position as the the party’s vice president in May after stating he shared the same convictions as Robert Ménard, the outspoken far-Right mayor of the town of Béziers.
Recent polls suggest Mr Macron will win the upcoming election in April, taking 24 per cent of the vote in the first round. Ms Le Pen and Ms Pécresse are tied at 16 per cent of the vote, and Mr Zemmour is on around 13 per cent.
If no candidate receives a majority in the first round, the top two candidates then head to a run-off vote.
A Harris Interactive poll predicts Mr Macron would win a run-off against all three candidates, with a predicted margin of 51-49 per cent against Ms Pécresse, 55-45 per cent against Ms Le Pen and 61-39 per cent against Ms Zemmour.