Three and a half years is a long time. The political crisis caused by the rejection of the discussion of the immigration bill in the National Assembly marks a turning point in Emmanuel Macron’s second five-year term. A “K.-O.”, recognized Olivier Véran, the government spokesperson. If it knew it was in a weak position in the Assembly in the absence of a majority, the government understood that the oppositions could tie its hands. The object of the offense: the motion for prior rejection, this procedure allowing parliamentarians to come together to reject a law even before its discussion in the Chamber. In 1998, it had long delayed the adoption of the Civil Solidarity Pact; in 2008, it had the skin of a law on genetically modified organisms.
“I regret that there was no debate on a subject on which the French expect results and solutions,” lamented Hervé Marseille, centrist senator from Hauts-de-Seine, who campaigned for the text maintains the system for regularizing undocumented immigrants in professions in shortage. But on the Republican (LR) side, no regrets. “What happened is hardly surprising. We cannot have a text from both the left and the right,” explains to Le Pèlerin Jean-Louis Thiériot, LR deputy for Seine-et-Marne, who voted for the rejection of this law.
This revolt of oppositions that everything opposes opens a new stage of the five-year term. If rejection motions multiply, how will Emmanuel Macron be able to govern for three more years? “It all depends on the subjects discussed. Reindustrialization, the launch of major technological projects, the fight against global warming or aid to Ukraine are not as divisive as a law on immigration,” believes Luc Rouban, researcher at the Sciences Po Political Research Center (Cevipof).
The Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, has already outlined an agenda for the start of 2024: work, purchasing power, housing, energy transition, “return of authority”, major themes – and less passionate – which Emmanuel Macron masters. In the weeks to come, only the more societal end-of-life bill could deepen divisions. The government knows this and some are actively campaigning to push it back after the European elections.
Faced with a rebellious Parliament, the greatest danger for Emmanuel Macron is immobility. Of course, he can bank on the fact that the rejection motion benefited from an alignment of the planets on this law, allowing the left and the right to vote with the same momentum, but this will not necessarily be the case for everyone. the texts. And in the event of a blockage, the executive always has the possibility of governing by decree. He can also “slice” the laws, in other words cut them into several texts, and pass them once with the votes of the left, another with those of the right. A balancing act that does not frighten the majority. “For a year and a half, we have still voted on 59 texts, the constructive transpartisan work is working,” recalls Sylvain Maillard, the leader of the Macronist deputies (elected in Paris). “It all depends on what is called “constructive”, we will vote text by text”, warns Jean-Louis Thiériot (LR) in response.
Concessions to the right
LR, this pebble in Emmanuel Macron’s shoe. If he still advocates “at the same time”, this overcoming of divisions claimed at the beginning, the President of the Republic has not been asked to seek compromises with the right since the legislative elections of 2022. This in the hope to ally with these elusive Republicans, whose additional strength can prove decisive in getting texts voted on. “He has no choice, if he wants to get out of this, Emmanuel Macron will have to “straighten out” a little more,” says Luc Rouban.
But in doing so, the President runs the risk of shattering his majority, from which the left wing could dissociate itself. The room for maneuver therefore seems very narrow. Some see in the current situation the return of the good old left-right divide and welcome the “return of politics”. “By dint of scripting the debate between populists and non-populists, we end up ensuring that the populists, in other words the National Rally (RN), constitute the only possible alternative”, tackles Marisol Touraine, the former minister of Health by François Hollande. The outcome of the immigration bill will say a lot about the rest of this laborious five-year term.