While the consensus seems to be that Fillon is the candidate with the most support in Israel by far, whether it’ll be expressed in votes is unclear.
As voting in the first round of the French presidential election began outside of France on Saturday, French citizens in Israel also prepared to go to the polls, with observers saying the local voting trend will be very different than that in France.
Just as in 2012, when the vast majority of French voters in Israel chose Nicolas Sarkozy, they’re expected to once again mostly vote for the conservative candidate, this time François Fillon of the Republicans.
Yet in recent polls of the French electorate, Fillon usually comes in third in a field of 11, after center-left candidate Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front, and, in some polls, fourth, after far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Only two candidates can make it into the runoff in two weeks.
The attendance at two campaign events held in Israel in the last week seemed to show which way the French-Israeli electorate was trending: About 60 people showed support for Macron on Tuesday, while Fillon backers nearly filled an auditorium in the Tel Aviv Art Museum that seats 450 on Thursday evening. There are some Le Pen backers in the mix, but they’ve kept their expressions of support on social media and didn’t organize anything official in Israel.
“Most French Jews are conservative,” a French journalist living in Israel, who asked to remain anonymous, observed. “They’re traditional Jews who lived among Muslims in North Africa, and don’t trust [Muslims].” Continue reading