Simone Veil, a 52-year-old French-born Jewish survivor of Auschwitz, become the first elected President of the European Parliament yesterday. She won the office by a vote of 192-138 over her closest opponent, Italian Socialist Mario Zagari, at the newly-elected Parliament’s inaugural session in Strasbourg. A champion of women’s rights and liberal abortion laws, she had served for five years as Health Minister of France. In recent years, Mrs. Veil has consistently emerged from public opinion polls as the most popular public official in France.
The European Parliament, which comprises the nine member states of the European Economic Community, (EEC), consists of 410 members. They were chosen last month by direct election in which 110 million Europeans of many nationalities cast ballots. Previously, members had been appointed by their respective national parliaments. The Parliament has limited powers and no authority over the governments of its member nations. It serves largely in an advisory capacity but does have a degree of influence on major issues confronting Europe.
Mrs. Veil was born in Nice, studied law after World War II and was employed by the French Ministry of Justice until named to the Cabinet of President Valery Giscard d’Estaing. She resigned from the Cabinet last month after being elected to the European Parliament. Her mother died in Auschwitz and her father and brother were killed by the Nazis. Mrs. Veil bears her concentration camp number tattooed on her arm. The fact that she is a Holocaust survivor was said to have motivated many West Germans to vote for her although she was regarded as the personal candidate of Giscard.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.