French National Front plagued by anti-Semitism

[Blandine Le Cain/Flickr]

Anti-Semitic feeling is stronger among National Front voters than in French society as a whole. [Blandine Le Cain/Flickr]

A recent study published by the Foundation for Political Innovation has dealt a blow to the legitimacy of France’s National Front, establishing a strong relationship between the NF and anti-Semitism in France. EURACTIV France reports

The study of anti-Semitism in French public opinion, published by the Foundation for Political Innovation (Fondapol) threatens to undermine attempts by the National Front to enter the French political mainstream. Anti-Semitism has little foothold in French society as a whole, but the study found a strong undercurrent of anti-Semitic feeling among the NF electorate.

“We can say that French society as a whole is relatively unaffected by anti-Semitic prejudice, with four major areas of exception: the National Front electorate, French Muslims, supporters of the Left Front and videos on the sites YouTube and Dailymotion, where anti-Semitism is more visible than in other media,” the director of Fondapol, Dominique Reynié, explained.

No integration for the NF

A sample of 1005 French citizens over the age of 16, and a further 575 people born into Muslim families, were surveyed for the study by the organisation IFOP.

The study was based on the observation that anti-Semitism accounts for over half the acts of racially motivated violence in France, while people of Jewish descent make up only around 1% of the French population. The authors arrived at the opposite conclusion to a 2004 study carried out by Jean-Christophe Rufin, which identified an inverse correlation between the extreme right and anti-Semitic feeling.

While 84% of those questioned thought that a French Jew was just as French as any other French citizen, the figure is 61% among NF supporters, and 91% among French Muslims. 53% of National Front voters would not be happy to vote for a Jewish President, compared to 21% of the overall population, and 22% would actively avoid having Jewish neighbours, compared to 6% of all French citizens.

Rejection of European Institutions

Dominique Reynié said that “the NF is the only section of French society to reject all forms of otherness, not only the Jews, to such an extent: even the Corsicans are not exempt”. He added that the conclusions of the study were completely “at odds with the mainstreaming of the NF”.

He also identified a relationship between anti-Semitic feeling and the National Front’s anti-EU politics. While 32% of all those questioned said they had confidence in the EU Institutions, the figure among those who claimed to believe in the existence of a global Zionist conspiracy was only 20%. 

The National Front had its best ever electoral performance in the European elections of May 2014, wining almost a quarter of the total votes cast. The National Front is now France's largest delegation in the European Parliament, with 24 MEPs out of a total of 74. 

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