France's Le Pen proposes referendum on immigration if elected president

French far-right leader says she will call for a vote proposing drastic limits on immigration

French far-right Rassemblement National party leader Marine Le Pen. Photo: Reuters
Powered by automated translation

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen said on Monday that if she were made president in the 2022 election, she would call a referendum proposing drastic limits on immigration.

Ms Le Pen told France 2 TV the referendum would propose strict criteria for entering French territory and acquiring nationality, and give French citizens priority access to jobs, and social housing and benefits.

"The referendum will propose a complete draft bill that will aim to drastically regulate immigration," said the candidate of the Rassemblement National party in the April elections for president.

Referendums are allowed under the French constitution but are rarely called. The last major referendum was in 2005, when French people voted against France ratifying a European Constitution.

In 2017, Ms Le Pen made it to the second round of the presidential election but was defeated by centrist Emmanuel Macron, who won more than 66 per cent of the vote.

Mr Macron has not yet said whether he will stand for re-election, but opinion polls show him and Ms Le Pen as the likely two candidates to make it through to the second round, with the incumbent favoured as the eventual winner.

Ms Le Pen's chances of making it to the run-off could be jeopardised by a possible presidential run by right-wing talk-show host Eric Zemmour, who could split the far-right vote and allow a centre-right challenger to face Mr Macron.

"I'm not worried," she said. "I am convinced the French people will place us against Emmanuel Macron because we defend very different models of society.

"He stands for unregulated globalisation, I defend the nation, which remains the best structure to defend our identity, security, freedom and prosperity."

Updated: September 27, 2021, 10:08 PM