Why Are So Many French Jews Voting for Front National? Numbers Soaring for Far-Right Party, Survey FindsSarkozy’s favorite grandparent was his lone Jewish one.
By JTA Published September 14, 2014.
The number of Jews who voted for the far-right National Front party soared in the most recent presidential election from the previous two votes, surveys showed.
In the surveys of French Jews, some 13.5 percent of 1,095 respondents who self-identified as Jews said they voted for National Front President Marine Le Pen in the 2012 presidential elections.
Asked about the two previous presidential elections, from 2002 and 2007, respectively only 6.1 percent and 4.3 percent of Jewish voters polled said they chose the National Front candidate — Le Pen’s father and predecessor as party leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has a history of convictions for “inciting racial hatred” and Holocaust denial. …
Overall, National Front candidates received 19.2 percent of the vote in the first round in 2002 and 10.6 percent and 19 percent in the first rounds in the following two elections.
… Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy of UMP received more than 45 percent of the votes of Jews polled in the first rounds of both the 2007 and the 2012 elections — far above his share of the votes in the general voter population.
So the Sarkozy + Le Pen share of the Jewish vote was close to 60% in the first round of the last French presidential election.
Were there any other right of center parties in the first round of the 2012 election? I was disappointed to see that the Hunting, Fishing, Nature, Tradition Party didn’t field a candidate in 2012 in contrast to 2007.
The Socialist Party, which is believed to have been a favorite among Jews in the 1970s and 1990s, fell far behind Sarkozy in the poll of Jews, nabbing 19.7 percent, 28.8 percent and 22.5 percent of the Jewish vote in the first rounds of the presidential elections of 2002, 2007 and 2012, respectively.From an earlier 2012 Forward article on French Jewish voters by Robert Zaretsky:
“Among my French Jewish friends,” he observed, “the range of political attitudes is quite wide, much wider than among my American Jewish friends, all of whom are liberal democrats.” But, he noted, there is a far greater range of options in France. “Apart from the Front National,” he suggested, “there is nothing that is ‘beyond the Pale’ in the way that American Republicans have become for many Jews (although I suppose American neoconservative Jews stand as an exception to this rule).”
Along with the greater variety of political parties, the variety of Jews is also great. As much as half of the French Jewish community, which numbers about 600,000, is Sephardic, and they tend to have their ancestral roots in Muslim countries, North Africa in particular. As a result, their attitude toward the Middle East, not to mention toward French Muslims, differs dramatically from that of their Ashkenazi peers. This is one reason that French and American Jewry seem to come from two different worlds: Quite simply, they do. …
… Many of his fellow “Tunes,” which is the moniker given to French-Tunisian Jews, have moved steadily toward the right over the past 20 years, as have their Algerian and Moroccan peers. Jolted by the experience in 2005 of rioting youths, many of whom were of North African ancestry — setting ablaze cars and buildings, convinced that the French left’s criticism of Israel’s policies in the occupied territories is a stealth form of anti-Semitism and worried that France’s growing Muslim population threatens its secular traditions — these Jews are rallying to law and order politicians on the right, like Sarkozy.