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Right-Wing French Candidate Looks to Climb

And Israel becomes a part of the patrie, for voting purposes

Marc Tracy
January 26, 2012
This is the French equivalent of campaign baby-kissing.(Pierre Andreiu/AFP/Getty Images)
This is the French equivalent of campaign baby-kissing.(Pierre Andreiu/AFP/Getty Images)

As April’s French presidential elections slowly approach, Front National standard-bearer Marine Le Pen is in a close third, with 18 percent, to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 23 percent and Socialist candidate Francois Hollande’s 29 percent. In other words, we could be headed for a situation similar to the elections 10 years ago, in which incumbent Jacques Chirac failed to get enough votes to wrap it up in the first round and second places when to Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s father, a Front National founder and honest-to-God Holocaust denier (whom Chirac proceeded to crush).

As Robert Zaretsky has reported in Tablet Magazine, Le Pen fille has genuinely changed the party and has even leveraged its xenophobic, anti-Islamic platform to appeal to Jews. More than that: Her deputy, Louis Aliot, last month traveled to Israel in order to try to drum up support among Israeli residents enfranchised in France for the elections. (Israel may be even more consequential to the French parliament, the National Assembly: The brand-new eighth constituency—one of 11 overseas French constituencies—includes only eight countries, one of which is Israel, whose more than 70,000 eligible voters make up roughly half the entire constituency’s franchise.)

But the FN is still the FN. Marine Le Pen has been on the defensive because daddy was interviewed on television about a notorious 1987 interview in which he questioned the Shoah—and he responded by blaming CRIF, the Jewish community’s official spokesperson to the government, for distorting his words. Old soldiers never die.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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