French Jewish Leadership Urges ‘Massive’ Voter Turnout for Macron to Keep Far Right Out of Power
The umbrella organization representing the Jewish community in France has called for a “massive” turnout in favor of incumbent Emmanuel Macron for the second round of the presidential election on Apr. 24.
Macron will face off against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Rally (RN) — previously the National Front (FN), which became the most influential neo-fascist party in postwar Europe under the leadership of Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s estranged father. In Sunday’s first round involving 12 candidates, Macron won 27.8 percent of the vote against 23.2 percent for Le Pen.
The two candidates faced off in the second round of the 2017 election, with Macron trouncing his opponent. However, pollsters believe Le Pen can expect a much stronger showing this time, as she is more likely to win support from voters for parties on the extremes of right and left, which performed well in Sunday’s first round.
A statement on Tuesday from Crif, the French Jewish representative organization, noted with concern “the weakening of the republican camp and the dangerous strengthening of the populist parties of the extreme right and extreme left, in particular the votes for Marine Le Pen, Jean-Luc Melenchon, and Éric Zemmour.”
The organization called for a “republican union to prevent the far right from coming to power.” It underlined that Crif had always been opposed to Le Pen’s party, “whose history and positions are contrary to the republican values carried by the Jews of France.”
Two of France’s leading anti-racist organizations issued similar pleas of support for Macron against Le Pen. A statement from the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism (Licra) argued that “the call not to vote for Le Pen is not enough: in the current balance of power, there can be no question of abstaining.” Only a Macron victory would effectively block Le Pen and the RN, Licra said. Separately, SOS Racisme warned that a Le Pen victory on Apr. 24 would result in a “French-style apartheid,” with discriminatory measures enshrined in law.
The prospect that some French Jews will vote for Le Pen is greater now than any time previously, in part because her maverick rival Zemmour — who hails from an Algerian Jewish family — has called on his supporters to back the RN in the second round. An exit poll of French citizens living in Israel found that Zemmour won nearly 54 percent of their votes, against just 32 percent for Macron.
About 50,000 French Jews have moved to Israel during the last decade amid a rising climate of antisemitism. According to David Khalfa, a researcher at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, many of them retain vivid memories of antisemitic harassment. “Zemmour was able to capture this electorate which swung to the right,” Khalfa told French news outlet L’Opinion on Monday.