On the eve of D-Day, Emmanuel Macron decided to give his Minister of the Interior a helping hand. While Gérald Darmanin submits his very controversial bill on immigration to the Senate chamber from Monday, the head of state is sending a signal to the Republicans (LR).
In a letter revealed by Le Figaro and addressed Sunday to the leaders of the political parties, whom he summoned to a new summit on November 17 in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), he reiterated his proposal to modify the Constitution to broaden the scope of the referendum on social issues - including end of life and immigration.
A way of acceding to the demands of LR and the National Rally (RN), wishing to be able to consult the French to “regain control” over migration policy. But the President of the Republic does not commit to calling such an election, contenting himself with taking up avenues already mentioned.
Presented during a speech to the Constitutional Council on October 4, they come from the draft revision of the Constitution left in the works during the first mandate, in 2019. “In view of both the international context and the challenges facing France, our responsibility is to overcome our divisions in the interest of the country,” writes Emmanuel Macron in his letter.
Will the relaunch of its institutional initiative change the shape of the debates in the Senate on the Darmanin-Dussopt law? Several LR officials are not fooled by what they see as an opportune maneuver. On the side of the presidential majority, we hope to come out on top from these fifteen months of talks and twists and turns behind the scenes around the bill. “It is a decisive law for the five-year term. It makes or breaks,” warns a Macronist parliamentarian.
At the origin of a text postponed on multiple occasions, decried by the left and rejected by the right, Gérald Darmanin knows that this parliamentary ordeal represents for him a test that is both political and personal. His company is closely monitored by the Élysée and Matignon, against a backdrop of rivalries with the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne. “He plays a lot with this law,” observes one of his colleagues in the government. It’s a subject that speaks to everyone, politically divisive, against the backdrop of upcoming European elections… There are every reason to be interested in it.”
Even before Emmanuel Macron's letter was sent, the number three in the government presented himself in recent days "confident", in the words of those around him. Sunday evening, on France 2, he even had the luxury of saying he was “opposed” to an adoption without a vote of his text via appeal 49.3, certain that a “way of passage” exists in Parliament. In particular thanks to the divisions of the senatorial majority, a section of which affirms itself in favor of the most controversial point of its text: the regularization of undocumented workers in professions in tension, provided for in article 3 in the name of " integration through work.
Contrary to these centrist troops united around Hervé Marseille, their LR allies plan to “considerably toughen” the bill when it passes the Senate, thanks to the 22 amendments tabled by their group. Promise from their leader Bruno Retailleau, who warns the executive against “real migratory chaos”, in an interview with Le Figaro: “If we have to vote on a text on immigration, it will be ours”.
In the hemicycle of the Upper House, Gérald Darmanin wishes to obtain a favorable vote. Even if it was on a firmer version, like the copy approved in committee last March. This does not commit it unduly: the National Assembly, where the text is expected from December 11 in a more tense atmosphere than in the Senate, will be able to modify the text in its own way. With the certainty of deciding as a last resort, in the event of disagreement between deputies and senators.
The government is moving forward more calmly since it sees the risk of censorship receding. The announcement by socialist Olivier Faure, who warned that his troops would not vote for a motion tabled by the right on immigration, was well received at the top of the State. She convinced the left wing of the majority that there is no point in negotiating further with LR. “It’s the majority that has the last word,” insists MP (Renaissance) Sacha Houlié.
For his part, the Minister of the Interior intends to continue his work of convincing the Senate dominated by the right. Among the LR leaders, he still defends the ambitions of his text: to better regulate the expulsions of delinquent foreigners - something he insisted on after the terrorist attack in Arras - and to speed up asylum procedures. In short, being “nice to the good guys and mean to the bad guys”, according to one of the favorite expressions of the tenant of the Hôtel de Beauvau.
The latter is still increasing his opening gestures towards the right, despite the pressure maintained by the left wing of his camp. He thus affirmed his readiness to limit protections against the expulsion of certain foreigners. He also said he was in favor, in a “personal capacity”, of a transformation of state medical aid (AME), reserved for illegal immigrants, into emergency medical aid (AMU), against the advice of Élisabeth. Borne and the Minister of Health, Aurélien Rousseau. Vain efforts?
For the right and the RN, all that seems to matter is a modification of the Constitution, in order to exempt itself from European law on immigration. This law, devoid of “effectiveness”, is “neither done nor to be done”, castigated Sunday the Lepénist vice-president of the Assembly, Sébastien Chenu, in “Le Grand Jury RTL-Le Figaro-M6-Paris First”.
The Macron camp's strategy consists of pleading urgency to push the right-wing oppositions to vote for their text, without waiting for a hypothetical modification of the fundamental law. What the boss of the Renaissance deputies, Sylvain Maillard, summarizes as follows: “A revision of the Constitution means answers in two years, in three years, in four years. The French want answers right away. The law must be changed immediately.”