By: Valerie Johnston | Photo: LOIC VENANCE / AFP
On May 7, France surprised the world by electing centrist Emmanuel Macron as the youngest President in French history. With the election of Donald Trump and Brexit still fresh on everyone’s minds, the move away from the conservative right was a definite change. But many wonder how exactly Macron – who is pro-EU, and outspoken about his pro-globalization stance – will impact French immigration policies.
During the campaigns, Macron opposed immigration quotas, and was one of the few candidates who expressed a desire to keep France as open as possible to all avenues of global trade, global sharing, and global alliances. His campaign emphasized freedom of movement between countries. He is also the only candidate to be very vocal in his support for France to remain in NATO, and to create a free trade program between the EU and the U.S. On the heels of the final campaign debate between Macron and Le Pen, political scientists said that each candidate presented very different futures for France: Macron’s France would be open, ready to lead as a European power, and future-oriented.
While no discussion has happened yet as to how Macron intends to change France’s immigration policy after the election, there is no doubt for political scientists that it will be coming. The biggest hurdle now is the early June legislative elections, which will determine how much Macron will have to fight to have any policies enacted at all. Another issue is the French population itself. Despite a clear win for Macron, the vote still showed that the nation is very divided over immigration, primarily fuelled by fears of terrorism and unemployment. The 2015 Paris attacks are still a key point brought up in nearly every immigration discussion across the nation, making it difficult for many French citizens to see globalization in exactly the same hopeful light as Macron.