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20 May, 2024
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Far-right claims victory as Macron's party divided over immigration

French Health Minister resigns over hardline immigration measures


The French government is grappling with a political upheaval as Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau tenders his resignation in protest against a stringent immigration bill.

According to a report on The Guardian, President Emmanuel Macron's centrist party faces internal divisions and reflection following the parliament's approval of the law, which has garnered praise from the far-right Marine Le Pen as an "ideological victory" for her anti-immigration stance.

Rousseau swiftly offered his resignation in opposition to the law, but Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has not yet indicated whether it will be accepted. The fate of other ministers contemplating resignation remains uncertain.

Initially conceived to demonstrate Macron's ability to enact tough migration policies while remaining open to foreign workers, the bill underwent significant changes after opposition parties refused to debate it in parliament. The resulting right-wing bill, endorsed by the centrist government, tightens rules for foreign students, introduces migration quotas, and imposes restrictions on welfare benefits for foreigners.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin justified the bill as a measure to "protect the French" and combat the rising influence of Le Pen's National Rally. However, within Macron's centrist party, numerous MPs, especially on the left, voted against or abstained, exposing deep internal divisions.

Le Pen praised the bill as an "ideological victory," while critics, including communist MP Elsa Faucillon, accused the government of echoing far-right rhetoric. The bill's conditional social security benefits for foreigners, linked to residency duration, drew parallels to the far-right's "national preference" concept.

Despite claims of regressive measures, the government argued that the bill also includes liberal elements, such as regularizing undocumented workers in sectors facing labor shortages.

The controversial legislation was passed with support from Macron's party and the right-wing Les Républicains, securing enough votes without Le Pen's far-right MPs. Opposition politicians on the left expressed disappointment, noting that Macron's victory in 2022 was seen as a defense against far-right ideologies, a sentiment now overshadowed by the immigration bill's controversial provisions.

[With information sourced from The Guardian]

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