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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

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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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