French Israelis vote 60% for Fillon, 4% for Le Pen
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French Israelis vote 60% for Fillon, 4% for Le Pen

Despite his disappointing show at home, voters in the Jewish state favor secularist candidate who vowed to fight anti-Semitism

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

A French national residing in Israel prepares to cast his vote for the first round of the French presidential election on April 23, 2017, at the French consulate in the coastal city of Netanya. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)
A French national residing in Israel prepares to cast his vote for the first round of the French presidential election on April 23, 2017, at the French consulate in the coastal city of Netanya. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

A large majority of French Israelis voted for center-right presidential candidate François Fillon, the former prime minister and presidential candidate of the Republicans party who failed on Sunday to advance to the runoff elections next month.

Some 60 percent of voters in Israel — more than 5,000 people — voted for Fillon.

In the general election, he only garnered around 20%, coming in third to centrist Emmanuel Macron and the leader of the far-right National Front (FN) party, Marine Le Pen.

In Israel, Macron came in a distant second with 31%, or 2,590 votes, while Le Pen, whose party has been called anti-Semitic, garnered only 3.7%, or 311 votes.

Macron, who in the general election got 23.7 percent, and Le Pen with 21.5 percent, will face off in a second round of voting on May 7.

French presidential election candidate for the right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party, Francois Fillon delivers a statement to the press at his campaign headquarters in Paris on April 21, 2017. (Patrick KOVARIK / AFP)
French presidential election candidate for the right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party, Francois Fillon delivers a statement to the press at his campaign headquarters in Paris on April 21, 2017. (Patrick KOVARIK / AFP)

Some 135 French-Israelis — less than two percent — voted for far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who in the general election came in fourth with 19.6 percent. Benoit Hamon, the candidate of President Francois Hollande’s Socialists, garnered less than one percent in Israel, compared with 6.3 percent he received in the general election.

French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen delivers a speech in Henin-Beaumont, April 23, 2017. (AFP/joel SAGET)
French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen delivers a speech in Henin-Beaumont, April 23, 2017. (AFP/joel SAGET)

According to the French embassy in Tel Aviv, 8,434 French citizens voted on Sunday in polling stations in the Tel Aviv and Haifa regions. Nearly 58,000 people were eligible to vote, which means that only voter participation in Israel was at a mere 14.6 percent.

On Thursday, some 500 French-Israelis gathered at Tel Aviv Museum of Art in support of Fillon. During the rally, which was organized by French member of parliament Meyer Habib who represents French citizens living in Israel, Fillon, in a recorded message, vowed to fight anti-Semitism in France.

“Israel was and remains a true friend of France, an ally. As French president, I will never compromise on Israel’s security,” Fillon said in the message.

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