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In France: an Echo of Prior Pain Rightist Le Pen Recalls Sad Past
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Author: Meisler, Stanley
Date: Apr 7, 1985
Start Page: 2
Section: Opinion; 4; Opinion Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

The philosophy of [Charles Maurras] influenced the Vichy government. Its record was so distasteful that many French still have difficulty discussing it. Even without Nazi orders, Vichy passed a host of anti-Semitic laws and began arresting Jews. Vichy, in fact, rounded up and turned over most of the more than 90,000 Jews who were later deported by the Nazis and killed in extermination camps. Historians have concluded that it was safer for a Jew to escape to Fascist Italy or Fascist Spain than to remain in Vichy France.

Not everyone who votes for Le Pen is a racist. But there is little doubt that Le Pen and his lieutenants have awakened an old, traditional racism in some people.

Still, there is uneasiness about Le Pen's prospects in the more important elections for the National Assembly next year. Le Pen may be helped if President Francois Mitterrand, for his own separate survival purposes, fulfills an old promise and changes the voting system into some form of proportional representation. That would perhaps give Le Pen a few seats.

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