France Election 2012: François Hollande Promises to Curb Foreign Workers

Henry Samuel, Telegraph (London), April 27, 2012

Under pressure to respond to the 18 per cent of voters who backed National Front candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s first round, Mr Hollande also stipulated that he would uphold and enforce a ban on the full Islamic veil, despite the fact he abstained in a Right-wing-led parliamentary vote in 2010.

“In a period of crisis in which we find ourselves, limiting economic immigration is necessary and essential,” said the centre-Left candidate who two polls released yesterday suggest will beat his conservative rival Nicolas Sarkozy in the May 6 run-off by between eight and nine percentage points.

The figures suggest Mr Sarkozy’s lurch to the hard Right on immigration and security has so far done little to boost his uphill re-election bid with eight days to go.

The embattled incumbent requires around 80 per cent of FN supporters to vote for him next Sunday, but a Harris Interactive survey published yesterday found that only 48 per cent would vote Sarkozy, while 21 per cent would back Mr Hollande and 31 per cent plan would abstain.

In a further blow to the Sarkozy campaign, the jobless rate rose in March to hit its highest level since September 1999.

Mr Hollande argues the FN vote reflects “social anger” against the “injustices” of the Sarkozy presidency, as well as rising unemployment, falling purchasing power and a perceived rolling back of public services, particularly in rural areas.

But he was criticised for evading questions in a TV debate on Thursday on whether there were too many foreigners in France—a claim Miss Le Pen and Mr Sarkozy have made in the campaign.

On Friday, he clarified his position, saying he planned to have parliament fix an annual quota for non-European Union foreigners coming to work in France.

“There will always be legal immigration. Can the number be reduced? That’s the debate,” he said, noting that Mr Sarkozy had already brought the government’s annual target for economic migrants down from 30,000 to 20,000.

“In my view, that’s the kind of level that would apply in times of crisis. In any case, the numbers will be managed,” he said.

In what some called a sign of desperation, the Sarkozy camp on Thursday wrongly accused Mr Hollande of being “linked to radical Islam”, saying he had the support of controversial Muslim scholar and Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan. The Swiss academic flatly denied ever saying he would vote Hollande.

Then Lionnel Luca, an MP from Mr Sarkozy’s ruling Right-wing majority, then laid into Mr Hollande’s partner, Valérie Trierweiler, mockingly calling her “Rottweiler, and that’s being kind to the dog”. Mr Sarkozy later condemned the outburst, saying: “I would have hated anyone saying that about Carla.”

Former prime minister Dominique de Villepin became the latest moderate Right-wingers to criticise Mr Sarkozy’s hard-Right turn, saying it “frightens me”. “The shameless poaching of extremist votes is today replacing debate. The republican red lines are being crossed one by one,” he wrote in Le Monde.

With the debate stuck on immigration and security, the candidates have spent little time on French voters’ prime concerns: employment and the economy.

On Friday, The Economist warned that a Hollande victory would be “rather dangerous” for France, as his programme promised no meaningful structural reforms, and could deepen Europe’s economic woes. Michel Sapin, in charge of Mr Hollande’s programme, slammed the liberal magazine as “anti-French”.

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • I think MLP and the FN benefit in a Machiavellian sense with a Hollande win.  If it’s a bad enough thumping, then Sarkozy’s party runs the risk of disappearing from public life, setting the FN up as the only credible “other” party in 2017, and maybe as soon as the upcoming legislative and local elections.

    • krak11can

      I do agree with you. If Hollande wins, Sarkozy’s UMP will break up. Than the entire french right wing will have little choice but to regroupe around FN making them an official oppositon in second largest european country!

  • haroldcrews

    I’m wondering if Hollande may be to smart by half.  He may be suppressing his own vote particularly among immigrants. 

    • The__Bobster

      I’m guessing he’s giving them a wink and a nod.

      • haroldcrews

        I suspect you’re right.

  • loyalwhitebriton

     Never trust a socialist when he/she talks about restricting immigration.
    Tony Bliar talked sensible talk about immigration before the 1997 landslide election victory.
    Then he opened the Floodgates!

    Reducing non-EU immigration from 30,000 p.a. to 20,000 p.a. is still 20,oo0 too many.

    Mr Hollande, just like Tony Bliar, is betraying, for short term political gain, his core ideological beliefs by any talk of immigration control. Hollande and Bliar remind me why I hate socialists.

  • .

    Sarkozy has earned the contempt of patriots through his asinine refusal to ensure the future of indigenous French people. But its the economy that’s killing him. So, in a sense, Sarkozy is in the position Obama will be in this fall.

    But there is no “win” to be had here for Hollande, either. That’s especially true if Europe’s economic woes continue. He’ll likely spend most of his term on the defensive. And he’ll still be ousted in the next election.

    The only winner here is FN if they can capitalize on the popular dissatisfaction to become one of the main parties. No doubt, there will be some very powerful people fighting hard to see that doesn’t happen.

  • JohnEngelman

    The closest approximation to democratic socialism is social democracy. Social democracy only works in countries where nearly everyone is white. I hope democratic socialists and social democrats realize that before it is too late. 

  • ageofknowledge

    The French are so gullible. The only reason to go to France is to join the French Foreign Legion if you want military service (instead of the U.S. military which increasingly is populated by females and homosexuals).

  • KenelmDigby

    Zero third world immigration must be the ideal aimed for.
    Just as the medical profession aims for zero prevalence of infectious disease, zero, (and I mean zero), must be the lodestone and guide for the number of third worlders admitted to France.
    No ifs, no buts, it must be zero and no more.
    If the medics are able to eradicate certain dread diseases by the use of controlled and cunning methods, then it seems to me that eradicating third world immigration is a trivial problem in comparison.

  • JackKrak

    Actually, I believe him when he says he wants to limit the number of foreign workers.

    The people that he wants to import into France have no intention of working at all……

  • KenelmDigby

    I’m always struck by how strange Sarkozy looks. I don’t know if he has typically French characteristics or not, but he does seem to, northern European eyes, to have some odd features – the pointy ears, the over-large beaky nose, the square head.
    He has always reminded me of those ‘pixie’ type characters ‘Snap, Crackle and Pop’ I think they were called, that used to appear on the front of a ‘Rice Krispies’ box.

  •  I have noticed that many of Sarko’s inner circle (including himself, obviously) consists of people of Eastern European background.

    I will point out though that not even Napoleon was of French stock.