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“The extremism of Eric Zemmour is not the limit which will make him reach a ceiling but his fuel”

Tribune. “In political matters, the possibilities are not infinite, but much broader than one thinks. “ His long attendance at the Italian laboratory has taught historian Patrick Boucheron to handle with caution the innumerable political upheavals of which he is used to retracing the history in his books.

On the contrary, observers who consider the near candidate Eric Zemmour as “Too extreme”, Where “Too divisive” to aspire to the second round of the presidential election or even the Elysée, seem to have forgotten that, south of the Alps, a movement founded by a comic and a web designer is still the first party in Parliament.

There was a time when the democratic game had a centripetal tendency. At that time, the candidate who wanted to gather a majority had to address the average voter with moderate messages, towards which the greatest possible number of voters could converge. At the level of the media, it was the time of the “Newspaper of 20 hours”, of the political platforms and of the electoral silence.

Clicks and likes

Today the rules of the game have changed. A new generation of national-populist leaders has imported into politics the logic of the great Internet platforms, which are not interested in the veracity or the coherence of all the content they convey, but only in the immediate impact that translates into clicks and likes. And which reward the most inflammatory content, systematically penalizing the blandness of the moderates.

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For these new political entrepreneurs, the game no longer consists in uniting people around the lowest common denominator but, on the contrary, in over-arousing the passions of as many small groups as possible and then adding them up. In order to win a majority, they do not seek to converge towards the center, but to ignite the extremes, because they know that at certain times, intolerant minorities make history.

As the author of the Black Swan (Les Belles Lettres, 2012), Nassim Nicholas Taleb, an intolerant minority is totally inflexible and cannot change their mind, while a significant part of the rest of opinion is more malleable. If the conditions are favorable and the price is not too high, the latter can decide to align itself with the intolerant minority and the switch can take place at an incredible speed, as was the case in Italy in the occasion of the closure of the ports decreed by the Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, in June 2018.

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