Paris, 11 April 2022

The Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, comments on the definitive results of the first round of French Presidential elections. Out of the twelve candidates, the current centrist President, Emmanuel Macron, is at 27,6% of the popular vote, followed by far-right Marine Le Pen at 23,4%.

Macron’s party, En Marche (On the March), has gathered moderates from left and right and the President leads Europe’s response to the war in Ukraine. Le Pen’s National Rally – party name change of her father’s antisemitic “National Front” – has been struggling to appear more moderate. Nevertheless, compromised by the reported past funding of her party by Russia, she has avoided issues of foreign policy. If elected, Le Pen would be the first woman President of France.

The two finalists for the second round are followed by far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose 22% electorate has been exhorted to support Macron. Among his traditional voters are also anti-Israel militants.

Then come the 7% of extreme-right Jewish journalist Eric Zemmour – who publicly stated admiration for WW2 Vichy leader Marshall Petain and downplayed the Holocaust in France –, followed by centre-right Valérie Pécresse and ecologist Yannick Jadot at nearly 5% each, with the other candidates below 3%. The once powerful Socialists have almost disappeared, with 1,7%.

These results reveal a relative majority moderate camp squeezed between polarized left and right.

The second round – on 24 April – will be a showdown between Macron and Le Pen.

The Wiesenthal Centre insists that, “whoever will be the winner, he or she must seriously address all dangers presently contributing to the polarization within French society, that fuel hate, violence and antisemitism...”

Although the issues of ‘cost of living’, the ‘consequences of Covid’ or ‘the war in Ukraine’ will hold the forefront of the upcoming political debate, there remain the underlying issues of sovereign identity and discrimination, exacerbated by the rise in conspiracy theories and fake narratives.

“May moderation and the lessons of history guide the French electorate’s choice in these challenging times,” concluded Samuels.