Immigration: text adopted in parliament, open crisis in the majority

Emmanuel Macron and Elisabeth Borne in Colleville-Montgomery in Calvados on June 6, 2023 (Ludovic MARIN/POOL/AFP/Archives)

Parliament on Tuesday finally approved the immigration law, a parliamentary victory for Emmanuel Macron that also opens a deep gap in his majority, part of which turned away from the text supported at the last minute by the National Assembly.

After 18 months of twists and turns over this incendiary bill, the assembly voted 349 to 186 for it, out of 573 voters, with the LR and RN adding their vote to the majority vote. It was divided: 59 votes out of 251 MPs were missing between votes against and abstentions.

The right-wing and center-dominated Senate adopted by a margin of 214 to 114 the text resulting from the long and painful deliberations of the Joint Commission, a right-wing-dominated conclave of seven senators and seven deputies.

Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin at the assembly on 11 December 2023
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin at a rally on December 11, 2023 (Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

On “Majority united, RN maneuver failed,” said Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, appearing to ignore the defection of nearly a quarter of her MPs.

She is due to speak at France Inter on Wednesday morning, while Emmanuel Macron is also due to speak during the day, possibly on TV.

“Ideological Victory”

Jean-Luc Mélenchon in Rennes, 14 December 2023
Jean-Luc Mélenchon in Rennes, December 14, 2023 (GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP)

For his part, the leader of France Insoumise (radical left) Jean-Luc Mélenchon condemned the “disgusting victory”, which instead won the votes of the extreme right. “A new political axis has been established,” he responded to X.

In fact, the text would still have been adopted if far-right MEPs had abstained. However, if they had voted against, the result would have been different.

In the meeting room, Gérald Darmanin praised the text, which deserves to be voted on “for the protection of the French”, for “the regularization of undocumented workers”, “for the simplification of our law”.

He furiously attacked the left, accusing it of betraying “morality” by “begging for votes from the RN” – a way to get revenge on the Nupes, whose rejection motion, voted by the right and the RN, brutally ended the debates. on this text last week in the House of Commons. Macron’s immersion in last-chance negotiations with the right.

Marine Le Pen on November 14, 2023 at the National Assembly in Paris
Marine Le Pen on November 14, 2023 at the National Assembly in Paris (Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Mr Darmanin also strongly attacked the RN, which decided to vote in favor of the bill at the last minute, accusing it of a political “little trick” to embarrass the majority, although it has so far denied it.

The left has never stopped calling attention in the text to “a law directly inspired by the program of Jean-Marie Le Pen”, the founder of the National Front: “national preferences in social benefits, loss of nationality, questioning of land rights”, said the president of the LFI group Mathilde Panot.

The RN applauded the speeches in the chamber, rejoicing in its “ideological victory”, as Marine Le Pen said earlier in the day.

President of the Environmental Group in the National Assembly Cyrielle Chatelain on September 18, 2023 in Ivry-sur-Seine in Val-de-Marne
President of the environmental group at the National Assembly Cyrielle Chatelain on September 18, 2023 in Ivry-sur-Seine in Val-de-Marne (Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP/Archives)

“If the members of the National Assembly voted against this evening, this text would not pass contrary to the lies told by Mr. Darmanin. It is a complete victory for the ideas defended by Marine Le Pen,” welcomed the representative of the extreme right. Jean-Philippe Tanguy.

The head of environmental MPs, Cyrielle Chatelain, criticized Emmanuel Macron, who “buried the surplus”. “He betrayed his voters. The only mandate the president was given was to block the far right and allow his ideas to be enshrined in law,” she protested.

Resignation submitted

Sacha Houlié, Representative of the Renaissance Group and President of the Legal Committee, at the National Assembly in Paris on December 11, 2023
Sacha Houlié, representative of the Renaissance group and president of the legal committee, at the National Assembly in Paris on December 11, 2023 (Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

In a sign of the majority’s concern, the president of the legal commission, Sacha Houlié, voted against the bill. And the president of the MoDem group, Jean-Paul Mattei, abstained.

The collapse also affects the government: the Minister of Health, Aurélien Rousseau, submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister on Tuesday, without knowing at night whether it was accepted. Several ministers adverse to the text, such as Clément Beaune (Transport), Patrice Vergriete (Housing) or Sylvie Retailleau (Higher Education), were received in the evening in Matignon.

Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau at the National Assembly, October 31, 2023
Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau at the National Assembly, October 31, 2023 (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

Mr Vergriete and Ms Retailleau, who disagreed with the text, also “balanced their resignations” on Tuesday after the RN assembly, according to a ministerial source.

In this difficult atmosphere, members of the government will meet on Wednesday morning for a meeting of the Council of Ministers in the Elysian Islands.

The historical ally of the head of state, the MoDem president, François Bayrou, made it known at the beginning of the evening that he would not “accept” the immigration text “claimed” by the RN, according to consistent sources. His group eventually split during the vote.

“It will leave its mark. And not only in parliament. I think we do not yet realize the consequences. Colleagues have physically collapsed (…) It would be difficult not to learn the lessons of the episode we just experienced,” said the majority executive after the vote .

LR head Eric Ciotti during debates on the immigration law in the National Assembly, December 7, 2023 in Paris
LR head Eric Ciotti during debates on the immigration law in the National Assembly, December 7, 2023 in Paris (Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

LR President Eric Ciotti welcomed the “historic victory of the right” and called on the majority “in crisis” to “take into account” the fact that the Republicans allowed “in substance and form” the adoption of this text”. “Let them finally understand that it is also impotence .”

“We are in the hands of the RN, we have lost on all counts” and Marine Le Pen “won everything”, raged the Renaissance MP.

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