The number of those on the left of French politics who believe the level of immigration into the country is too high has almost doubled in the last four years, according to a new study.
An in-depth survey, conducted by French research and consulting group, BVA France, observed a hardening on the topic of immigration across the French public when compared with the same study conducted in 2018.
Nearly seven out of 10 French people (69 percent) believe “there are too many immigrants in France today,” a view that has seen an increase in support of six points compared to the 2018 study. However, when analyzing the attitude of those who affiliate with left-leaning political parties, this statement is supported by 48 percent, up 21 points in just five years.
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Adélaïde Zulfikarpasic, general manager of BVA France, discussed the results with Fondation Jean-Jaurès, a French think tank associated with the Socialist Party, in a bid to ascertain why politically left-leaning French nationals have become disillusioned with the country’s liberal migration policy, and to analyze the extent to which the topic of immigration has now become an issue of concern across the French political divide.
The notion that France now welcomes too many immigrants is naturally one that receives majority support from voters for the National Rally (95 percent) and Reconquête! (93 percent). However, even within Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s left-wing populist La France Insoumise party, a majority of supporters (51 percent) agree with the statement, and one in two (50 percent) supporters of Europe Écologie Les Verts (“The Greens”) agree with the statement. This is an increase of 20 percent and 22 percent, respectively, in support of the statement among those who affiliate themselves with the two left-wing parties when compared to the 2018 study.
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Although a minority (43 percent) still agree that France has too much immigration among supporters of the Socialist Party, this figure has also increased by 18 points in five years.
On a second statement regarding the extent to which French people believe immigrants are “well integrated in France,” just 39 percent of respondents agreed, compared to 60 percent who do not agree.
Again, typically a majority of National Rally, Les Républicains, and Reconquête! supporters strongly disagreed with the statement, but those among the French left did as well. La France Insoumise was the only party that had a majority of supporters agreeing with the statement, with 53 percent, while just 43 percent of the Greens and 42 percent of Socialist Party supporters believe immigrants have integrated well into French society.
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Upon analysis of the wider results of the study, Adélaïde Zulfikarpasic noted that the French population can be divided into three main categories. “The open (are) individuals who do not agree with the idea that there are too many immigrants in France today. They represent 31 percent of the population compared to 35 percent in 2018.”
Second is “the reserved,” which is comprised of individuals “who feel that there are too many immigrants in France today but who, at the same time, think that France should welcome refugees who seek asylum. These represent 35 percent of the population,” Zulfikarpasic said.
And lastly, “the refractors,” who believe that there are too many immigrants in France today and who do not agree with the idea that France should welcome refugees who seek asylum. Zulfikarpasic noted that this category has strengthened in the past few years and now represents 34 percent of French society, up by four points over 2018.
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“We therefore measure it quite clearly: The opinions of the French on the subject of immigration have hardened. However, this development is not the prerogative of the right. And now, nearly one in two supporters of the left, as we have seen, believe that there are too many immigrants in France,” Zulfikarpasic told Fondation Jean-Jaurès. “And barely one in two consider that, in general, immigrants are well integrated in our country.”
The study results are published at a time when the French government is proposing a new immigration bill — one that has been pushed back on the government agenda after being deemed too politically explosive at a time when French society is already highly charged over President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reforms.
“Moreover, 83 percent of French people consider it difficult to talk about immigration today,” Zulfikarpasic concluded. “The upcoming review of the immigration bill will be an opportunity to put it at the center of the table.”