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Conspiracists Well-Placed to Win Big in French Elections

An array of conspiracy theorists are heading to the French Parliament in Emmanuel Macron’s snap legislative polls

Jordan Bardella (screenshot YouTube, June 28, 2024)

As France prepares to vote in the snap legislative elections’ runoff, with Marine Le Pen’s extreme right, Putin-admiring movement pushing at the gates of power, conspiracy theories are running amok.

A clutch of notorious propagators of narratives spanning pro-Kremlin conspiracies, anti-vax theories, climate change denial, QAnon, and Holocaust negation have already been elected outright in the first ballot, for Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (National Rally or RN).

Many more are well placed to win in the July 7 final round, under the banner of the nationalist party that wants its 28 year-old ex-gamer turned TikTok influencer Jordan Bardella as France’s prime minister.

Satanism, pedophiles and COVID “rape”

The conspiracist RN candidates propagate a wide range of theories, often anti-scientific, ranging from claims about the "satanic pedophile leaders club" to the possibility of curing cancer through thinking. L'Express magazine identified more than thirty candidates who reject rationality, following an analysis carried out jointly with Conspiracy Watch, and other research bureaus studying sects and conspiracists (GéPS) and L'extincteur.

A number of candidates became notorious for spreading conspiracy theories during the Covid-19 epidemic. In 2022, Emmanuelle Darles, candidate in Vienne, compared the vaccination of children against the coronavirus to "rape". Jonathan Rivière, candidate in La Réunion, also claimed that those vaccinated were "magnetized". On Facebook, he wrote "man had never walked on the moon". Stéphanie Alarcon, in the Haute-Garonne, claimed in 2023 that Ukraine "is today fuelling the market and the sale of organs to finance its war with the backing of the US, NATO and Europe".

The Great Replacement

The “Great Replacement” narrative invented by Renaud Camus has long been a favorite of RN parliamentarians and those vying for first-time election. Bryan Masson, who won election on the first ballot on June 30 with a majority in his Alpes-Maritimes constituency has called on X for a “remigration” of peoples who have not been French for centuries. In another post he called the government body distributing family support payments “the third holy site of Islam”.

Others like Bénédicte Auzanot - who is a strong favorite for re-election in the Vaucluse region - do not refer directly to the theory of the “Great Remplacement", but do refer to it in a roundabout way. As Victor Mottin reported on Conspiracy Watch’s mother French site, the MP deplored in an editorial published on the far-right website Boulevard Voltaire in 2022: "we no longer produce enough babies to ensure the renewal of generations" and pointed the finger at the state, which "prefers to 'import' foreign children".

Laure Lavalette, the combative, socially conservative National Rally spokesperson and MP in the Provençal constituency of the Var, known for her opposition to "immigrationist propaganda" has attacked the European pact on migration and Socialist Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Raphaël Glucksmann. "For them, immigration is not a problem, it's a project,” she said.

Guillaume Bigot, a commentator on the hard right sensationalist CNews TV channel and a candidate in the Belfort region, asserts that "the suburbs are indeed revealing that small-scale localized replacements are taking place". "It's essential to stop this infernal mechanism before it's too late!,” he says.

The RN candidate in the Hautes-Pyrénées Marie-Christine Sorin - who came out on top in the first round - explained on X, for example, that "not all civilisations are equal" and that some "have just stayed below bestiality in the chain of evolution". She also urged Emmanuel Macron’s Ensemble party spokesperson Prisca Thevenot, who was born in Strasbourg, and whose family background is Mauritian, "to return to her island".

Pro-Kremlin political operatives and anti-Ukraine conspiracies

Among the most notorious pro-Russian conspiracist National Rally figures likely to be elected to the French parliament is Pierre Gentillet. Alongside a group of around a dozen other candidates, Gentillet has traveled to Moscow as an “international observer” of sham elections. He praises Putin’s governing style and foreign policy, founded the Pushkin Circle, a pro-Russian think tank, and has engaged in denial of the Russian army’s massacre in Boutcha, Ukraine in 2022.

Another candidate likely to win, Andréa Kotarac traveled to Crimea in 2019 for an international forum, a major pro-Putin event attended by Mariani and the niece of Le Pen, Marion Maréchal. A former member of the extreme left La France Insoumise (LFI, France Unsubmissive) Kotarac has also traveled to Syria on several occasions to meet Bashar Al-Assad.


Antisemitism abounds among National Rally candidates. An avalanche of revelations of links with neo-Nazi groups and Holocaust denial have emerged since the snap elections were announced on June 9 when President Macron’s centrist party was trounced at the European elections. The unmasking of hatred of Jews and conspiracy theories to justify it has proceeded even more rapidly since the first round of voting on June 30.  A candidate in Caen, Normandy lost the official backing of the RN after a photo emerged of her smiling and wearing a Nazi Luftwaffe hat with a Swastika on it.

Paule Veyre de Soras, the RN candidate in Mayenne, in a video that went viral, said the day after the first round: "My ophthalmologist is a Jew. And my dentist is a Muslim". De Soras qualified for the second round with 28%.

In the Haut-Rhin, candidate Laurent Gnaedig has also qualified for the runoff elections, facing off with a Macron group MP and former minister Brigitte Klinkert. On July 3 he said on BFMTV Alsace that the remarks made by National Front co-founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, about the gas chambers being a "detail in the history" of the Second World War, "were not an antisemitic remark". Le Pen, now 96, "inspired me when I was young", said Gnaedig.

Sophie Dumont, candidate in the Côte-d’Or, suggested on X that the extreme right break-away party headed by Eric Zemmour  had been “financed by the Jews”. She also reportedly shared conspiracy theories about Brigitte Macron being a man, and quoted a Dutch MEP who described Ukraine as "the biggest supplier of children to pedophile rings".

Far-left antisemitic conspiracies

The French extreme left is dominated by the authoritarian LFI party founder Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has succeeded in cannibalizing the broader left electoral coalition for the elections called the Nouveau Front Populaire (New Popular Front).

Mélenchon says despite official statistics showing soaring acts of antisemitic hate in France since October 7, 2023, that antisemitism is “residual”. He has compared the president of Lille university to the Nazi Eichmann, and encouraged the Kremlin-approved ‘Nazification’ of President Emmanuel Macron, frequently caricatured as Hitler by his more radical opponents, and in some French media outlets. The LFI leader has a group of legislative candidates who have become infamous for remarks that are either antisemitic or fanning the flames. Newly elected MEP for LFI Rima Hassan, who is of  Syrian origin, sported a keffiyeh the night of the June 30 results, standing next to the Great Leader. This would have been anodyne if Hassan herself was not associated with celebrating Hamas’ massacres on October 7  as legitimate resistance.

The week before the elections Hassan promoted a conspiracy drawing on ancient antisemitic tropes, spreading a rumor started by a Hamas official, that Israeli military were using dogs to rape Palestinian prisoners held in jails. Other LFI candidates have consistently downplayed and contextualized October 7, and refused to categorize Hamas as a terrorist organization. Earlier Hassan has shared false claims on social media that Israel is killing Palestinians to steal their organs.

Sébastien Delogu is an MP for the LFI Party who as elected in the first round. On X, he reposted a video associating a Jewish MP with an oven-baked pizza. "I thought the pizza was there to hide the arrow precisely so as not to call for violence. That's why I immediately deleted it and called for calm", he defended himself.

National Assembly figure for LFI Aymeric Caron caused fury when he chose to relativize the ultra-violent Hamas-inspired torture and gang rape of a 12 year old girl in a Paris suburb in June. The girl was attacked by a group of adolescent male aggressors reproaching her for hiding her Jewishness and not standing up for Palestine. Caron posted on X about the recent murder of a Roma mother, which "nobody is talking about". His provocative post prompted widespread condemnation about his suggestion that only Jewish victims get spoken about, and his reluctance to recognize and stand against rising antisemitism in France.

For sixteen years, Conspiracy Watch has been diligently spreading awareness about the perils of conspiracy theories through real-time monitoring and insightful analyses. To keep our mission alive, we rely on the critical support of our readers.

Emma-Kate Symons
Emma-Kate Symons
Emma-Kate Symons is a Paris-based journalist and columnist who has been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, The New European and Reuters. Educated at the University of Sydney and Columbia University, Emma-Kate has reported from all over Europe, as well as from New York, Washington, Manila, Bangkok and Canberra.
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