It was one of the most anticipated moments of this 2022 presidential campaign. Valérie Pécresse and Eric Zemmour clashed this Thursday evening during an hour and a half debate, broadcast on TF1 and LCI. Neck and neck in the polls, the Republican candidate and her rival from the Reconquest party delivered their proposals concerning the war in Ukraine, immigration and even economic reforms. But the exchanges often turned into a fight, between hubbub and blows below the belt. Couldn’t watch the show? We give you a short summary.
Pécresse and Zemmour fight over General de Gaulle
Valérie Pécresse did not wait long to launch hostilities. Candidate LR immediately castigated her rival’s position on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. “I believe that in wars both characters and values are revealed.” Claiming to be “the Gaullist spirit”, she pointed to the “Munich spirit” of Eric Zemmour. “When you’re under Putin’s influence, you can’t call yourself a patriot, that’s why you discredited yourselves to preside over France,” she said.
“The Gaullist tradition is precisely the rapprochement with Russia, replied the candidate of Reconquest, citing as an example the Legion of Honor awarded by Jacques Chirac to the Russian leader. When you say that you are for a European pillar of defense within the framework of NATO, you are for exactly the opposite of what General de Gaulle fought against all his life. Once again, you’re just a junk Gaullist. »
Immigration rat race
After a debate on the reception of Ukrainian refugees, Eric Zemmour targeted his interlocutor. “Whenever there is a war, will you welcome the victims of this war, wherever they come from? When there is war in Syria, you will welcome a million Syrians, when there is war in Mali, you will welcome a million Malians, you have to tell the truth to the French. »
The former budget minister, she castigated the “zero immigration” proposal of her evening opponent. “With your policy, there are no more foreign researchers, no more foreign students, no more nurses and foreign doctors. Zero immigration no one has done and no one ever will, you will be a powerless president because you are an ideologue,” she said, defending her quota policy. “It’s the ultimate confusion, reacted Eric Zemmour, because the bosses want cheap labor. Not only are you not stopping legal immigration, but you are also going to add labor immigrants to us. All of that is bullshit. Everything is bogus with you in the fight against immigration. »
Stink bombs on Islamism
Already very tough, the debate then turned into a long brouhaha on the question of Islamism. “Eric Zemmour says Islamism and Islam, it’s the same thing, not for me”, began the candidate LR, defending her record in this area in her region of Ile-de-France. The former polemicist then accused the Ile-de-France president and some of her supporters of acquaintances with Islamist circles. “It bothers you what I say because I reveal your double game to the French”, he said, triggering the anger of Valérie Pécresse.
“Monsieur Zemmour says nonsense! All your fake news is being detoxed on social networks! “, she railed, blaming Eric Zemmour for the presence of “negationists” in his entourage and his “friendship” with Tariq Ramadan. “Me, while you were hiding, I was fighting Tariq Ramadam on television,” defended the identity candidate.
“We are not in a playground”
The exchanges were hardly better held on the economic reforms. “Eric Zemmour has no courage, he will not lead to any abolition of civil servant posts, no unemployment or RSA reform”, retorted Valérie Pécresse, recalling her plan to cut 200,000 civil servant posts. “We cannot make job cuts with a wet finger, all that is bullshit, promises galore”, swept his interlocutor, defending his retirement at 64 and “savings on the abolition of social benefits to foreigners”. The tone did not go down during this sequence, forcing journalist Ruth Elkrief to play the referees. “We are not in a playground”. After this bitter and confused debate, it is difficult to say which candidate could benefit from it. Perhaps those who did not participate.