Immigration and the 2007 French Presidential Elections
WASHINGTON -- As French voters select between presidential candidates Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal on May 6, immigration may be a decisive issue. In light of the upcoming election, the Migration Policy Institute has released a backgrounder on the latest developments in France’s immigration system and the two candidates’ immigration platforms.
Sarkozy, the former interior minister and candidate from the center-right UMP party, is known both for tough law-and-order policies restricting immigration and for promoting religious dialogue and funding for mosques in a country known for strict separation of church and state.
Royal, of the center-left Socialist Party, would be the first woman to be elected president of France. She has emphasized encouraging circular migration, including through a "multiple roundtrip, multi-year" visa, for people at all skill levels as well as a development-centered approach to migration.
The election is crucial to the future of French immigration policy as the two candidates have radically different platforms. The backgrounder, written by Hiroyuki Tanaka, shows:
- In 2004, approximately 4.9 million people in France, or 8.1 percent of the population, were foreign born.
- Between 1999 and 2005, over a million foreign-born people acquired French citizenship.
- About 1.5 million foreigners (including those in the European Economic Area) make up 5.3 percent of the civilian labor force, according to 2005 data.
- In 2005, approximately seven out of ten permanent migrants entered the country through France’s family migration system. More than 70 percent of these migrants were from Africa.
To learn more about current immigration statistics and each candidate's stance on immigration, please read the backgrounder.