If there’s one thing that French President Emmanuel Macron can be proud of, it’s his resilience to crises.
From the seemingly endless pre-‘pandemic’ Yellow Vest marches, to the widespread riots following his tyrannical pension reform, followed by race riots and ultimately clashing pro-Israel and pro-Hamas demonstrations, Macron’s presidency has been a considerable train-wreck.
But Macron sailed through all of that, apparently weaker and weaker, but managing to remain in power.
Now, as his government suffered a hard blow on the National Assembly with the harsh rejection of his ‘flagship’ immigration bill, combative Macron is unfazed by criticism and is fighting back.
He reacted against speculation that he has become a ‘lame-duck’ president that is just paving the way for the rightwing to come to power
Macron’s coalition now has splintered over a compromise immigration bill that was deemed too tough by many centrist lawmakers
Many have started – yet again – to question whether he can still govern effectively.
The new immigration bill includes quotas limiting the number of arrivals in France and tighter conditions for family residency permits.
One of the most controversial measures is a five-year wait for legal immigrants to apply for social security benefits.
“In his first interview since Tuesday’s vote, the French president denied any long-term damage, even while National Rally leader Marine Le Pen celebrated and cast the toughened bill as an “ideological victory” for her camp.
My majority ‘hasn’t shrunk’, the French president said on the France 5 TV channel. ‘I respect the women and men who abstained or voted against the bill, but has one of them left our coalition? Has one of them said I’m breaking away?’”
A quarter of the 251 MPs in Macron’s coalition either abstained or voted against the hardened immigration bill after the government lost control of the text.
The text was significantly toughened to win the backing of the conservative Les Républicains party. Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau resigned in protest within 24 hours of the vote.
Marine Le Pen’s National Rally gave all its 88 votes in favor of the bill, embarrassing Macron’s troops.
“But on Wednesday, Macron appeared bullish and dismissed those doubts: ‘I haven’t finished the work. I still have three and a half years ahead of me, and let me tell you, I’m not stopping now’, he said.”
Macron reacted fiercely back against the notion that he’d be encouraging the rise of the ‘far right’.
Macron argued that tackling security and immigration is the only way to stop the National Rally, which is continually rising in the polls.
“’If you want to stop the National Rally coming to power, you have to tackle the problems that are feeding it. And what is feeding the National Rally is the impression that our answers [on migration] are not efficient.[…] What we are doing with Europe, the migration pact, and this law, will very clearly help us fight trafficking networks, will help us deport people who are illegally on French soil … that’s what I call efficiency’, he added.”
The Guardian reported:
“Macron added: ‘Fighting illegal immigration is not just a subject just for the [political] right. If you live in a working-class area affected by this you are for this law. If you live in nice areas where you’re not affected by these problems you can say, ‘oh, it’s not good’, but a lot of people in sensitive areas support this law’.
[…] The government, which has no absolute majority in the house since last year’s general election, then passed the bill to a cross-party parliamentary committee of MPs and senators to write a new text. Members of the senate, controlled by the right, added a number of hardline measures not in the original text.”
Macron does not agree with all the changes in the bill, but will not abandon the legislation that took a year to draw up and adopt.
“He said: ‘It’s understandable that it’s upset certain people and I respect that. You can speak about values but we’re talking about reality. The text was written by the government but is the fruit of a compromise. It’s what the people wanted when they voted and gave us a relative majority. […] What choice did we have? Should we have said we will stop – that fighting illegal immigration is a bad idea? No. We set up a committee to come up with a compromise. This text is the fruit of that compromise.
Do I jump for joy at it? No. There are things in it I don’t like … the question for the government was, do we block it because we don’t like parts of it? No. When you govern you have to make difficult choices. Do we say we need to do something useful for the country or do we do nothing because it’s not exactly what we wanted? The country was waiting for this law’.”