France’s far-right RN makes immigration pillar of Europe poll campaign

It is up to the French people to decide who is allowed to enter the country and who is not

By REUTERS
March 04, 2024
French far-right party Rassemblement National (RN) president Marine Le Pen addresses her New Year wishes to the press during a news conference in Paris on January 25, 2024. — AFP

PARIS: The French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) of Marine Le Pen kicked off the party’s campaign for the European elections in June on Sunday saying the vote will be a referendum on immigration.

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Opinion polls show RN is set to make large gains in the elections - some polls crediting it with 28 percent-30 percent support - and that it could pose a major challenge to France’s mainstream parties, including President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance.“It is quite clear these elections on June 9 are a referendum against being submerged by migrants,” RN President Jordan Bardella, 28, who will lead the RN in the elections, told the party’s first campaign rally in the southern port city of Marseille.

“It is up to the French people to decide who is allowed to enter the country and who is not. With us France will protect its borders,” he told the crowd.Bardella was delivering the closing address of the meeting in front of a huge poster with the campaign’s slogan “France is back, Europe returns to life”, as his supporters waved French flags and chanted “We are going to win” and “We are at home”.

Like elsewhere in Europe, France’s far-right has benefited from a cost-of-living crisis, rising immigration, farmers’ growing discontent over red tape and high costs and general resentment towards the political elite.

According to statistics office INSEE, the number of immigrants - people living in France but born abroad - stood at 5 percent in 1946, reaching 7.4 percent in 1975 and 8.5 percent in 2010, to just over 10 percent in 2022. About a third have become French.

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