The French president says the legislation undercuts the right-wing National Rally party, which supported it in parliament
The ruling Renaissance Party has joined forces with the right-wing National Rally (RN) in France to pass an immigration bill that places curbs on social benefits. The move has outraged the left wing of President Emmanuel Macron’s support base.
The controversial legislation was passed by the lower chamber of the French parliament shortly before midnight on Tuesday by 349 votes to 186. The proposal had been championed by Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who said it was necessary to sway the public away from RN and its leader Marine Le Pen ahead of the 2027 presidential election. Macron cannot contest the election, having served two consecutive terms.
If signed into law, the bill would require foreigners to live in France for five years before qualifying for social benefits, or 30 months for those who have jobs. It also introduces migration quotas, makes it harder for the children of migrants to gain French citizenship, and provides for it to be stripped from felons who have dual nationality. The restrictions were added to win the support of right-wing lawmakers.
Le Pen described the passage of the bill as “an ideological victory,” since it makes immigration controls a national priority set in law.
There is a possibility that Macron may refuse to sign the bill, according to dozens of public figures who signed a petition published by the daily L’Humanite calling the president not to endorse the legislation. They called the vote a betrayal of trust by Macron, after voters rallied behind him against Le Pen during the 2022 election. The “law of hatred and division,” the petition warned, “opens the way to the worst.”
The bill has caused a rift in Macron’s government. Health Minister Aurelien Rousseau tendered his resignation on Wednesday in protest, and Agence France-Presse sources claimed other ministers may quit as well.
Macron defended the bill during an interview with the ‘C a vous’ television program on Wednesday, in his first public remarks since the parliament vote. He denied betraying supporters and called the reform “a shield that we needed” to discourage illegal immigrants, which, he claimed, will undercut sentiments that nourish NR.
An Elabe opinion poll has shown that 70% of French voters support the passage of the bill. Almost seven in ten saw it as an effective tool for expelling foreigners who pose a threat to the public, while six in ten expect it to tackle illegal migration. People surveyed gave more credit to Le Pen’s party than to Macron’s party for the bill.
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