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POLITICS

French elections: 5 things you didn’t know about Eric Zemmour

He's the far-right TV pundit and author with a collection of criminal convictions for hate speech who is challenging France's traditional far-right party for the presidency. Here are some things you might not know about Eric Zemmour.

French elections: 5 things you didn't know about Eric Zemmour
Eric Zemmour. Photo: Stephane du Sakatin/AFP

1 He’s on the right

Zemmour is firmly to the right of the political spectrum now, but he was born in the famously left-wing Paris suburb of Montreuil, which for many years has been under control of Communist mayors.

These days it’s getting quite gentrified, but there are still many proud reminders of its left-wing heritage, including organised demonstrations against its ‘local lad’ presidential candidate when he tried to hold an event there. 

READ ALSO 

2 His family is from Africa

Perhaps unexpectedly for someone on the far right, Zemmour himself is Jewish and his parents were born in Algeria, which at that point was a French colony.

He has controversially (by which we mean almost all respected historians say that he’s wrong) suggested during World War II the French Vichy regime protected French Jews and ‘only’ allowed those born overseas to be deported to Nazi death camps.

3 He’s not an expert on copyright law, or grocery shopping

He has been a journalist, columnist, TV pundit and is the author of several books on the subject of France and its decline.

But during this career he apparently never picked up the basics of copyright law – the video announcing his candidacy as president had to be hastily junked when it emerged that he (or his team) had failed to secure permission for the numerous news, archive and movie clips used in it. A court later ordered him to pay €70,000 for breach of copyright. 

4 He believes in ‘traditional values’He’s apparently not great at getting groceries either, since according to French satirical paper Le Canard Enchainé he has two walked out of grocery stories without paying for his items. Zemmour said that the latest incident, in posh Paris grocery Bon Marché, was a simple case of forgetfulness, and sent his security chief down to pay for his €38.80’s worth of items.

A social conservative, he’s married with three children, although in January 2022, after an exposé in Closer magazine, he announced that his 28-year-old chief campaign adviser is his new partner.

In his books he has spoken at length about how France’s ‘virility’ is being eroded by feminism and the feminisation of society. 

The French investigative website Mediapart has published an exposé in which eight women accuse Zemmour of inappropriate conduct or sexual assault, mostly while they were working with his as interns or trainees during his journalism career.

5 He has strong views on names

If he’s elected, you might need to change your name.

Zemmour has previously said that only ‘French’ first names should be allowed, suggesting that only first names listed in a decree from 1803 should be allowed.

This is a long-standing obsession, back in 2016 he informed former justice minister Rachida Dati that it was “outrageous” of her to name her new baby Zohra. 

In response a French web developer set up this joke online name generator where you can check if your first name conforms to the 1803 list and – if not – get a suggestion for a new one. Bad news for any Stephens out there, you would be known as Estelle 

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POLICE

France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.

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