Macron doomed as 77% of French people believe President is ‘failing’

French police slash migrants’ inflatable dinghies

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Tensions are simmering between France and Italy over the re-allocation of migrants arriving from the Mediterranean. A diplomatic row erupted earlier this month when Rome forced Paris’ hand to accept a humanitarian rescue ship, the Ocean Viking, with 234 migrants aboard. The rightwing government in Rome had refused to grant it access to a port for weeks.

France retaliated by suspending its participation in an EU solidarity pact to accept 3,000 people who had arrived this year in Italy and sent officers to reinforce its southern border crossings and prevent migrants from entering.

But Emmanuel Macron’s approach to the latest crisis is failing to convince people at home, with 77 percent of the population believing that the government is “failing” to control immigration in France, according to a latest poll.

A poll by the CSA institute for CNEWS published on Wednesday 23 November found that a majority of French people think Mr Macron is “failing”.

Asked “Would you say that the government is succeeding or failing in controlling immigration in France”, all age groups opted for the second option.

French people aged between 50 and 64 are the most likely to share this view of failure, with 83 percent. A similar proportion of 35 to 49 year olds (79 percent) but lower among 25 to 34 year olds (70 percent).

However, it is those aged between 18 and 24 who are the least categorical. Here, 66 percent of young people surveyed think the government is “failing” to control immigration.

Another lesson from this study was that, regardless of the political proximity of the respondents, the judgement of the government’s failure to control immigration is shared on both the right and the left of the political spectrum.

On the right, 100 percent of Reconquete! supporters believe that the government is “failing” to control immigration. They are followed by voters of Rassemblement National (94 percent) and Les Republicains (92 percent).

On the left, this consideration is also widely shared, albeit in smaller proportions. Also, 71 percent of La France Insoumise supporters think that the government is not managing to control immigration, while 63 percent of respondents close to Europe Écologie-Les Verts (EELV) are of the same opinion.

It should be noted that the result is nevertheless more mixed among socialists who are “only” 59 percent to believe that the government “fails” in its control of immigration.

Finally, the government is also disowned by Renaissance’s own supporters. Indeed, 61 percent of those polled who are close to the majority believe that the government is not effective in its control of migratory flows.

Senior European Union officials on Wednesday appealed to member countries to set aside their deep differences over migration and press ahead with a long-delayed overhaul of the 27-nation bloc’s asylum system.

Two years ago, the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, made public the latest of several plans to reform the asylum system, a scheme that it insists would address the problems.

Failing to move ahead with this detailed reform plan, Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas told EU lawmakers at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, it’s “like having a parachute but choosing to jump out of the plane without it.”

According to the EU’s coastguard agency Frontex, around 275,000 attempts to enter Europe without authorization were made by people in the first 10 months of this year, a six-year record. Most are coming overland through the Balkans, but many cross the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats.

Around 79,140 attempts to enter were made through the central Mediterranean Sea. Most were from Bangladesh, Tunisia and Egypt and are unlikely to be allowed to stay because they are not fleeing conflict or persecution.

The number of arrivals dwarf those experienced in countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon and should be manageable in a relatively wealthy bloc that is home to 450 million citizens, yet the thousands arriving by boat have sparked one of the EU’s biggest political crises.

For years, member countries have argued over who should take responsibility for those arriving and whether partner countries should be obliged to help. Unable to agree, they and the commission have sought to outsource the problem by clinching deals with north African countries like troubled Libya that people transit or leave to get to Europe.

EU countries and the commission have also rejected any attempts to set up a concerted search and rescue mission to deal with the problem, arguing that such a scheme would only entice more people to come. They’ve even taken legal action against aid groups trying to save lives.

“Without any proof, certain governments accuse these NGOs of complicity with human traffickers. On the contrary, it is the Union and its member states that finance a predatorial and deadly system,” said the joint president of the Greens political group in the EU parliament, Philippe Lamberts.

“By giving the keys to our migration and asylum policy to countries like Libya, we are making ourselves complicit in violence, torture, rape and ransom. Libya is a failed state. And it’s so-called coastguard are armed gangs in uniforms paid for by the European Union,” he said.

But under a commission “action plan” prepared for Friday’s emergency talks, the ministers will look at ways to boost the ability of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt “to develop jointly targeted actions to prevent irregular departures” and tighten their borders.

The EU’s top migration official, Ylva Johansson, said the challenges for Europe are immense.

“Time is running. We have to start the real negotiations now,” she said. “Migration is not a threat. Migration is something we need. But we need to manage migration, and we need to welcome people (by) legal ways. But we need to prevent irregular arrivals and the risk of people’s lives.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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