Page last updated at 09:46 GMT, Tuesday, 5 May 2009 10:46 UK

France seeks poll bar for comic

By Emma Jane Kirby
BBC News, Paris

Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala. Photo: March 2009
Mr Dieudonne: Fined for accusing Jews of 'memorial pornography' in 2007

French authorities are trying to ban a comedian from fielding candidate lists in European polls because they believe he holds anti-Semitic opinions.

Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala is going on trial later on Tuesday on charges of inciting hatred against Jews.

The 42-year-old stand-up comic plans to present candidates in at least five of France's regions in June's polls.

The controversy comes as Israel's new Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman makes an official visit to France.

Publicity warning

Mr Dieudonne, who was born in the Paris suburbs, began his comic career partnering a Jewish comedian, but the duo fell out and Mr Dieudonne moved closer to the far-right movement.

Already fined two years ago for accusing Jewish people of what he called "memorial pornography", the half-Cameroonian comedian is now facing trial on charges of inciting hatred against Jews.

The French authorities are currently trying to see if they can ban him from fielding candidates in the June elections.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's chief-of-staff said on a Jewish radio station that it was odious that someone with such openly anti-Semitic views should be allowed to present himself for elections.

Mr Dieudonne, who has previously invited the National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and a French academic who was convicted of Holocaust denial to his shows, reacted to the criticism by calling the president's aide "a good little soldier of the Zionist lobby".

Most of France's main political parties oppose Mr Dieudonne's electoral initiative but some politicians have warned against public debate in case it generates publicity for his views.

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MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
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