First Religious Jew Elected to French Parliament

Meir Habib, formerly Deputy Chairman of the French Jewish umbrella group CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France), was elected on Sunday to the French parliament. This is the first time a religious Jew was elected to Parliament.

Habib had received the brachos of Harav Ovadia Yosef and Harav Chaim Kanievsky and was strongly endorsed by the French-language Hamodia.

“The fact that my campaign was endorsed by the Rabbanim, Hamodia newspaper and the Torah world means that the seat in the French parliament is a significant win for the Jews living in Eretz Yisrael,” Habib said. “The chareidi parties gave me their full support, which I see as a merit and responsibility. Be’ezrat Hashem I will do what I can; there is much to do for Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim.”

The 52-year-old director general of the jewelry company Groupe Vendome, who is married with four children, divides his time between Paris and Yerushalayim. His father, Emanuel Habib, z”l, of the Tunisian Jewish community in France, owned a kosher winery and was active in encouraging aliyah. His brother is Rabbi Moshe Habib, a maggid shiur in Yeshivat Beit El.

Over the past 30 years, Habib has actively supported the French Jewish community, its educational institutions and charities.

Habib is close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who endorsed his candidacy.

The Israeli Vote

Since 2012, French expatriates send their own regional constituency representatives to the National Assembly in Paris.

“It’s a system that was designed in order to strengthen the link  … between France and the French diaspora …, ” Christophe Bigot, the French ambassador in Tel Aviv, said about his country’s new policy to reserve parliamentary seats for overseas citizens. “I am sure that whoever gets elected will carry a lot of influence within the French political system.”

The French diaspora is divided into 11 conscriptions, or regional groups, some of which consist of two or more countries. Israel is part of the eighth conscription, together with Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, San Marino and the Vatican.

Within its group, Israel has, by far, the largest number of French citizens — more than half. This means that the Franco-Israelis had the decisive say in who got elected. Electors could vote by mail, at the ballot box or online.

The French embassy in Tel Aviv made a particular effort to encourage Franco-Israelis to take advantage of their right to vote. It operated a dozen polling stations from Haifa to Eilat, and kept them open as long as possible.