The number of Jews who voted for the far-right National Front party soared in the most recent presidential election from the previous two votes, surveys showed.
In the surveys of French Jews, some 13.5 percent of 1,095 respondents who self-identified as Jews said they voted for National Front President Marine Le Pen in the 2012 presidential elections.
Asked about the two previous presidential elections, from 2002 and 2007, respectively only 6.1 percent and 4.3 percent of Jewish voters polled said they chose the National Front candidate — Le Pen’s father and predecessor as party leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has a history of convictions for “inciting racial hatred” and Holocaust denial. Marine Le Pen has worked to rehabilitate the party and recently entered a war of words in the media with her father over his suggestion to put a Jewish singer “in the oven.”
The surveys were conducted over 10 years and compiled by the IFOP polling company for publication earlier this month by the news website atlantico.fr, which commissioned the report.
The National Front is a vociferous critic of what it describes as the government’s inaction to stop France’s “Islamization.”
Overall, National Front candidates received 19.2 percent of the vote in the first round in 2002 and 10.6 percent and 19 percent in the first rounds in the following two elections.
In a statement released Friday, National Front General Secretary Nicolas Bay blamed the government’s immigration policy for a 91 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks documented in France during the first seven months of 2014 over the corresponding period last year.
Muslims are the main perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews, according to the Jewish watchdog BNVCA, or the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism.
“It demonstrates what National Front has long denounced: the development of a radical Islam which endangers the safety of citizens,” the statement said. “It is a direct consequence of the massive immigration that the political class of UMPS led for 40 years in an utterly irresponsible manner.”
UMPS is a mashup of the French-language initials of the centrist UMP and the left-wing Socialist Party. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy of UMP received more than 45 percent of the votes of Jews polled in the first rounds of both the 2007 and the 2012 elections — far above his share of the votes in the general voter population.
The Socialist Party, which is believed to have been a favorite among Jews in the 1970s and 1990s, fell far behind Sarkozy in the poll of Jews, nabbing 19.7 percent, 28.8 percent and 22.5 percent of the Jewish vote in the first rounds of the presidential elections of 2002, 2007 and 2012, respectively.
This story "Why Are So Many French Jews Voting for Front National?" was written by JTA.