When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.


Sarkozy And France's Far Right Share The Same Obsession: Immigrants

Analysis: The French incumbent knows the final round runoff requires him to pick up as much as possible of the 18% who voted for right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen in the first round. Immigration is the perfect issue, and one Sarkozy has been focused on f

Sarkozy pointing rightward (EPP)
Sarkozy pointing rightward (EPP)
Angélique Mounier-Kunh

PARIS - Less than a week before the decisive second round of the presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy's strategy is no secret: he wants Marine Le Pen's voters. To that purpose, he never misses the opportunity to talk about the far right National Front party's favorite themes: identity, radical Islamism, immigration.

Last week, in an interview for the French regional press, the president-candidate made a list of his future measures concerning immigration: "First of all, we need to divide the number of immigrants coming in France by two."

To decrease the influx, "the right to automatic family reunification should be abolished," Sarkozy added. He then widened the debate to speak about a "sieve-like Europe" and "an immigration that has a unique goal: to take advantage of generous European social benefits." He lumped these issues together with the burqa and halal meat debates.

Is the president's stance toughening? Not really, according to Sylvain Crépon, sociologist and an expert of the far right in France. Nicolas Sarkozy has never hesitated to seize on such themes, dating back to his arrival in 2002 as interior minister. "These themes were an important part of the 2007 campaign," Crépon notes. "But back then, the National Front's voters didn't matter as much." Le Pen's father and the party's founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, only garnered 10% of the votes during the first round, compared to 18% this time around.

"National identity"

But even then, as the 2007 campaign was heating up, Sarkozy brought the issues to the fore by announcing plans to create an Immigration and National Identity Ministry. Since then, Sarkozy's position on immigration has hardened further. After the 2011 debate on the Schengen Agreement for open borders in Europe, when North Africans were flocking to Europe in the wake of unrest, Sarkozy "repeatedly followed National Front's ideas, until the difference between the two became smaller and smaller," Crépon explains.

If both ideologies have converged, Sarkozy's ideas are still far behind Marine Le Pen's. She wants the number of immigrants to be reduced by 95%, and wants to put an immediate end to family reunification and citizenship by birth. "There is still a line that Nicolas Sarkozy does not cross," says Claire Rodier, a migration policies specialist, who notes that the French president would never denounce international conventions on refugees' rights.

"The family reunification debate is a perfect example of how such issues are used for communication purposes: automatic family reunification has never existed in France," says Violaine Carrères, a researcher at the Immigrant Information and Support Group. "Family reunification has always depended on many criteria that have been hardened by Sarkozy. The two main criteria are incomes and housing."

As eager as Sarkozy seems to be to make immigration a campaign issue, his challenger, Socialist party candidate François Hollande, has made a clear effort to avoid it altogether.

Read the original story in French

Photo - European People's Party

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Tracking Russia's Deportation Of Ukrainian Children — And The Case For Genocide

Russians have been practicing the illegal transfer and deportation of Ukrainian children since 2014. Experts consider it one of the five main signs of genocide, and Ukraine's Office of the Prosecutor General has been working to prove this component of the "crime of crimes."

Photo of a Ukrainian child holding a winter boot and a wooly hat

Ukrainian children receiving warm clothes from UNICEF

Anna Steshenko

KYIV — After the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, the removal of Ukrainian children with subsequent rapid "adoption" or placement in Russian families quickly gained momentum. It is a topic that has recently gotten more coverage after Vladimir Putin paraded several such children from the occupied city of Mariupol at a pro-war rally in Moscow.

But it's also important to see the hard facts — and moral and legal significance — of what has actually happened across much of eastern Ukraine.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

As of the end of February 2023, more than 16,000 children have been illegally deported. A month earlier, this figure did not exceed 13,000. And these are only verified cases. The actual number may be much higher, but it is impossible to establish exact figures now.

In December 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a process for applying for renunciation of Ukrainian citizenship and obtaining Russian citizenship by residents of the annexed regions, which includes provisions for recognizing a child under the age of 14 as a Russian citizen.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest