France’s lawmakers to debate immigration as Macron seeks post-Yellow Vest bounce

The French National Assembly will today open a three-day debate on migration policy. A few weeks ago, French President Emmanuel

French election

Photo: Etienne Laurent/EPA

The French National Assembly will today open a three-day debate on migration policy.

A few weeks ago, French President Emmanuel Macron told his party that he believes immigration is a major concern of working-class people. Macron’s comments largely come in response to the French president’s plummeting popularity and the impact of “yellow vest” protests. According to the latest polls, just 25% of voters approve of his job performance.

While the centre-left faction of his centrist party argue that framing immigration as a working class problem only caters to the narrative of France’s far right, a national debate on migration policy is a solid first step to satisfying discontented French voters. Last year alone Paris granted asylum to over 33,000 individuals. With immigrants consisting of almost 10% of the population, a recent survey found that nearly two-thirds of French people believe there are “too many” foreigners in the country.

However, simply having a debate will not be enough to earn public backing. Addressing economic issues voters tend to associate with loose migration policies—like lower wages and higher taxes—is also necessary. While Macron’s government has already promised almost $11 billion in tax cuts in its 2020 budget, stimulating wage growth and slashing taxes will be weighed against the consequences of a budget deficit potentially breaching EU rules.

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