Home News France’s far-right party has a plan: big ideas but few details

France’s far-right party has a plan: big ideas but few details

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Jordan Bardella, leader of the far-right National Rally, who could become France’s next prime minister, has been repeating the same basic promises since France’s snap election.

He said that if his party formed government he would drastically reduce immigration, cut taxes and crack down on crime.

But the National Rally inherits a French political tradition associated with overt racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, and while the party has distanced itself from its past, some basic ideas remain embedded in its policies: that immigration poses a threat to France’s security, economy and national identity.

Bardella’s plan includes stripping children born in France to non-French parents of their automatic right to French citizenship at age 18; ending free health care for undocumented people, except in emergencies; and limiting citizenship. Hold a second passport, work in a sensitive job, For example, operating nuclear power plants and doing “strategic” defense work.

He also wants to ban convicted criminals from living in public housing and slash the country’s sales tax on all forms of energy, from fuel to electricity.

How he will achieve those goals is not entirely clear. The party’s 21-page manifesto, crammed with photos and charts, is full of big ideas but few details about how they will be implemented. In the past three weeks of intense campaigning and debate, Mr. Bhadra has already walked back some of his promises or shelved them for later.

But even some of the measures that have been kept in his plan, such as the stripping away of some automatic citizenship rights, and that he wants to implement immediately, are likely to face opposition from President Emmanuel Macron and the country’s Constitutional Council.

So, the question is: how will Mr. Badla pay for all the expenses.

“They will have trouble implementing parts of their plans,” said Rémi Lefebvre, a political science professor at the University of Lille.

Not even clear Mr. Badla, 28 years old, will become the next French prime minister. His party and its allies Won about 33% of the popular vote for the 577-seat National Assembly The party’s candidates won in the first of two rounds of elections held last Sunday, but only 38 candidates won seats outright.

Most of the remaining candidates face a decisive second round of voting next Sunday, and a nationwide campaign is underway to prevent them from securing an outright majority. More than 200 rivals have dropped out of the three-way race, handing extra votes to their strongest opponents in an effort to stop them.

Badella said he would not become prime minister without an outright majority of 289 seats, but he promised that if he did become prime minister, his government would introduce some generous measures this summer.

Some of the bills are in line with Republican anti-immigration beliefs, such as restricting Dual citizenship taking over certain jobs, and ending some free medical care for undocumented people.

In the coming years, Bardella has pledged to implement the party’s long-standing principle of “nationals first” — French citizens are given preferential treatment over foreigners for certain government jobs, benefits or subsidies.

Anne-Charlene Bezine, associate professor of public law and constitutional expert at the University of Rouen in Normandy, said the measures would likely be rejected by the country’s Supreme Constitutional Council.

Just this spring, the court ruled against restrictions on social benefits for non-French citizens who have lived in France for less than five years, stating that such restrictions would seriously infringe the right to national solidarity enshrined in the French constitution.

Ms. Bezine explained that distributing benefits in a way that distinguishes people based on birth or citizenship goes against the fundamental structure of the French Republic, which dates back to the Enlightenment and was enshrined in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

“You can’t distinguish between French people who are native and foreigners,” she said in an interview. “It’s the same as distinguishing between French people by birthplace or ancestry. It goes against the principle of equality.”

Experts say Mr. Bardella’s recent tough-on-crime plans are more likely to be implemented quickly and successfully. In his first weeks in office, he promised to pass laws setting minimum sentences for repeat offenders and cutting government subsidies for the families of repeat juvenile offenders.

“I think they can do it and satisfy voters,” said Lefevre, the political science professor.

To get money back into French wallets, Bardella’s main promise is a sharp cut in the country’s taxes on energy sales. Asked how to pay for the measure, which the finance ministry estimates will cost 17 billion euros ($18.2 billion), Bardella floated a number of possibilities, including a 2 billion euro cut in France’s payments to the European Union.

Lefebvre predicted he could clash there again with Macron, a strong supporter of the European Union.

But Mr. Bardella may yet face technical challenges. In the short term, if the French government refuses to make the payment, it could face immediate sanctions and a corresponding reduction in EU transfers — much of which goes to French farmers, the biggest beneficiaries of farm subsidies, said Eulalia Rubio, a senior fellow for European economic affairs at the Jacques Delors Institute in Paris.

The next round of EU multi-year budget talks begins next year. She said if the French government insists on getting a rebate in future payments, it will likely get some, though not as much as 2 billion euros.

But Rubio, who is also an associate senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Studies, said it would come at a huge cost to the EU, as France is the bloc’s second-largest donor.

“France has always been the country that wants the European Union to increase its budget,” Rubio said. “You saw Macron asking for a doubling of EU spending. So we can completely forget about the huge spending on the defense budget and completely forget about providing more economic support to Ukraine.”

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