Far-right party with antisemitic roots projected to lead after first round of French vote


(JTA) — The far right is ahead after the first round of voting in France’s legislative elections, according to polls, raising the prospect that a party with antisemitic roots will command a majority in parliament.

Projections of Sunday’s vote showed that National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen, got some 34% of the vote, followed by a coalition of left-wing parties, which got 29%. President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party, Renaissance, came in third with 22%. A final tally of the vote has not yet been released.

National Rally was founded more than 50 years ago by Le Pen’s father, Jean Marie Le Pen, who has repeatedly been convicted of antisemitic hate speech and made statements downplaying the Holocaust. Marine Le Pen has sought to distance herself and the party from her father, expelling him from its ranks and changing the party’s name.

The party now emphasizes opposing immigration as well as skepticism of the European Union. France’s center-right party embraced National Rally ahead of Sunday’s vote. But many French Jews are still wary of the party. Many Jews also regard the far-left France Unbowed — which has faced its own antisemitism allegations and was part of the left-wing bloc that came in second on Sunday — with suspicion.

Last week, ahead of the vote, the French Jewish umbrella group CRIF posted on X, “Neither RN, nor LFI!” — the acronyms for the far-right and far-left parties. “The danger of extremes has never been greater. Together, let’s mobilize against those who represent a danger to the Republic and who are desperately trying to fool the French.”

The results are a setback for Macron, who called the snap election less than three weeks ago following National Rally’s strong showing in elections for the European Parliament, in which far-right parties saw gains across the continent. Macron had hoped to stymie the far-right’s rise.

Instead, National Rally may be headed for the biggest victory in its history. The second round of voting on July 7, in which the top two candidates in each constituency face each other in a runoff, will determine the makeup of France’s National Assembly, the lower house of parliament. But Sunday’s results suggest that National Rally could get an absolute majority in the body, allowing it to choose the country’s prime minister.

National Rally’s prime minister candidate is Jordan Bardella, 28. If elected, he will replace Gabriel Attal, who took office in January and has Jewish ancestry.

National Rally has never held power in France. But its candidates have advanced in the past to the final round of voting in French presidential elections — including in the two most recent elections, when Macron defeated Le Pen. The next French presidential election will be in 2027.

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