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Emmanuel Macron’s government suffered a humiliating defeat in the National Assembly, where opposition parties united to prevent his long-promised immigration reform from being brought up for debate in Parliament.
Lawmakers who normally have little in common — from the far-right National Rally party to the far-left France Proud Party — banded together and used a last-minute parliamentary tactic to stop the bill in its tracks just as they had with the bill. The examination was scheduled to begin in two weeks.
The surprise result does not necessarily kill the proposed immigration reform, but it is another reminder of how difficult legislation has been since Macron lost his parliamentary majority last year.
It also represents a setback for Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who has spent months trying to muster enough votes from the conservative Republicans party to pass the law, and has made no secret of his ambitions to win higher office, such as the premiership. minister.
Before the vote, Darmanin defended the government’s proposal as necessary and fair, and said it would be incoherent for opposition parties to prevent a debate on a topic that the French public considers a national priority.
After the vote in the lower house of parliament, Darmanin said that the government is studying how to save the draft law and will not withdraw it as the opposition parties demanded.
“Strong measures must be taken for the police and gendarmerie to protect the French,” Darmanin told TF1 television. He criticized the “alliance of opposites”, which he said obstructed reform “for bitter political reasons.”
The motion to preemptively reject the bill and halt scheduled debate passed by 270 votes to 265. Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front and the Left Party opposed it on the grounds that they felt the proposal was too lenient and would encourage people to come to France illegally. Left parties opposed it on the grounds that it was too harsh.
Loud applause and cheers broke out on the opposition benches when the result was read.
Opponents on both sides of the political spectrum have called for Darmanin to resign. The minister said on TF1 channel that he offered Macron his resignation, but the president rejected it.
Macron’s government, under pressure from Le Pen’s far-right and hardening public opinion on immigration, has promoted the reforms as a solution to long-term problems. This law would tighten the asylum system, reduce the number of appeals that applicants can submit from 12 to two, require proficiency in the French language, and aim to improve France’s relatively poor record in deportations.
But it also includes proposals, criticized by right-wingers, to give work permits to undocumented people working in sectors with labor shortages, such as construction and health care. He is an example of Macron At the same time – At the same time – an emblem of policy making, and a reflection of how the French president has long sought to borrow ideas from both the left and the right.
The government has several legislative avenues to try to salvage the reform, such as convening a committee of senators and representatives from different parties to reach a consensus version or reverting to an earlier, harsher version passed by France’s upper house, the Senate. From Parliament.
Eric Ciotti, leader of the Liberal Party, said his party would support the Senate bill: “We want the Senate bill to be discussed and adopted in its entirety without additions and changes.”
Le Pen said the vote was a much broader message to Macron’s government that should remind it that it does not have a majority in parliament and must negotiate with lawmakers as a result. She criticized their use of Section 49.3 of the Constitution to bypass lawmakers as they did on unpopular pension reform this spring, saying their reliance on it “made them forget” the weakness of their political hand.
“The government today has realized that it actually belongs to the minority,” she said.
She likened Macron’s government to a rodeo cowboy holding on to a bronco: “It’s not about going anywhere, it’s just about hanging on to the saddle.”
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