Wiesenthal Center warns on apathy in EU vote


PARIS (JTA) — Voter indifference could empower so-called anti-Semitic parties in the upcoming European Parliament elections, the Simon Wiesenthal Center warned.

“In the past, low voter turnout has played into the hands” of European parties and their allies which “are openly anti-Semitic and some include convicted Holocaust deniers,” said a statement released Friday by the center.

In the same statement Shimon Samuels, the center’s European international relations director, called on its members to vote June 4-7 in what will be the continent’s largest European Union-wide election.

Among the political parties causing concern is the newly formed anti-Zionist party headed by French comedian Dieudonné, who has been convicted on charges of anti-Semitism.

On Sunday, French Justice Minister Rachida Dati said that despite an attempt by some French politicians to oust Dieudonné’s party from the elections, the group would  remain in the campaign.

“For the moment, we don’t have any evidence capable of preventing Dieudonné from running,” she said on the French TV network Grand Jury RTL-Le Figaro-LCI.

Indifference to the EU elections appears to be growing in France. Fifty-four percent of eligible French voters said they would not vote in the EU Parliament election, according to a poll for the daily Le Parisien published Sunday — an increase of 3 percent from 2004.

The Wiesenthal Center is arguing that votes can influence the Israel-Europe relationship and Jewish life in Europe because the EU Parliament will address issues such as anti-Semitism, an Iranian nuclear threat, dialogue with Hamas and Hezbollah, and trade agreements with Israel.

Some 736 members of the European Parliament will be elected by proportional representation to represent 500 million Europeans in the 27 member states.

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