Has Marine Le Pen given Emmanuel Macron the ‘kiss of death’?

President Macron and Marine Le Pen
Image caption,President Macron beat Marine Le Pen in the 2022 presidential election

French President Emmanuel Macron may have won a law on immigration, but has he lost his soul?

The accusation is being made at after a dramatic day in French politics which saw the presidential party given what one newspaper called the “kiss of death” by Marine Le Pen’s hard right.

Unable to steer its original version of the immigration reform through parliament, the government had to accept a number of tougher changes forced on it by the mainstream right.

It was that or admit to legislative incapacity on an issue that French voters all say is close to their hearts.

Swallowing the harder-line version of the immigration law was bad enough for many in President Macron’s centrist Renaissance party and its allies.

What became unendurable was the coup pulled by Ms Le Pen as the vote in the National Assembly approached on Tuesday afternoon.

Out of the blue she announced that the toughened-up version of the law was now, thanks, she said, to the pressure of her 88 deputies, quite satisfactory.

More than that, she claimed it was an “ideological victory” because for the first time an immigration law would recognise the principle of “national preference” – long a cherished goal of her National Rally party.

She can say this because in some important ways the amended law breaks new ground.

For example, it makes the payment of several benefits conditional on a foreigner living in France for up to five years; it slightly dilutes the automatic right to citizenship for all people born in France; and it creates a responsibility for parliament to set annual quotas for immigration.

Ms Le Pen told her MPs to vote for the new text containing the tougher measures. That was her “kiss of death” to President Macron.

Now this may sound perfectly banal to people unversed in French politics. After all, the law was not drawn up by her – but by President Macron’s centre and the right-wing Republicans cooperating together. If she chooses to support it, that’s her prerogative. But the good or bad of a bill is good or bad independent of what the hard-right says about it.

But that is to underestimate the symbolic vehemence of the Le Pen name, and the associations it conjures up in the minds of its enemies.

To pass a law relying on far-right votes was an embarrassment that Macronite MPs found excruciating, and a day on they are still squirming.

A quarter of deputies from Renaissance and its allies refused to vote for the bill because they could not bear the accusation that they were doing the hard-right’s bidding. One minister resigned. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne – who was originally a Socialist – is putting on a brave face but is obviously deeply troubled.

The left and hard left are having a field day. Manon Aubry of France Unbowed called the law the “most xenophobic in French history” and the Greens’ Yannick Jadot said it marked the arrival of “Trumpism” in France.

They know they have President Macron and his party pinned against the wall, forced to admit that its only hope of passing legislation is by forming an unholy alliance with the right, in all its manifestations.

What has happened sounds the death-knell of https://beritaberitaterbaru.com President Macron’s “at-the-same-time” political creed. He thought he had invented a new style of politics in which – thanks to his brilliance and charm – he could pick and choose from both sides of politics.

It worked for a bit but now it has stopped. His original sin was failing to win a working majority in parliament last year. Now, to get something done, he has had to choose a side.

And that side is the right.

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