Jewish groups decry far-right election success in France

Jewish groups in France and Europe blamed voters’ indifference for the success of the far-right National Front party in French local elections.

National Front candidates were elected mayors in 11 municipalities in the vote on March 30 — a dramatic increase over the party’s previous record of four mayors in 1997, the news website Europe1 reported. A record number of French voters, more than 38 percent of the electorate,  did not cast ballots.

“The message is loud and clear that the French electorate is either not taking the threat from the far right seriously or they do not care,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the European Conference of Rabbis, said in a statement. The results should, he said, “set off alarm bells throughout Europe.”

Jewish groups and leaders have feared National Front’s rise because its leaders include politicians with a penchant for anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric. Among them is Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party founder and honorary president, and the father of current leader Marine Le Pen.

Jean-Marie Le Pen has several convictions for inciting racial hatred against minorities and denying or minimizing the Holocaust.

The Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF) said in a statement March 30 that it “regrets the success of National Front in many municipalities” and blamed the result on the indifference of voters and authorities to efforts by organizations such as UEJF to prevent National Front victories. — jta