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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Immigration and the French Far-Left

Reading Arun with a View's posts about Marine Le Pen sparked my interest in finding out more about the different French political party platforms.  It is one thing to follow the commentary on the Net, it is quite another to go straight to the source and actually read what is being proposed in their own words.  Since I can't vote here, I've never done this which, in retrospect, seems foolish.  I may not be a citizen but what they have to say, and what they wish to do, has a direct impact on my life and the lives of others here, be they citizens or residents. Eric Hoffer was very wise when he wrote:
It is necessary for most of us these days to have some insight into the motives and responses of the true believer.  For though ours is a godless age, it is the very opposite of irreligious.  The true believer is everywhere on the march, and both by converting and antagonizing he is shaping the world in his image.  And whether we are to line up with him or against him, it is well that we should know all we can concerning his nature and potentialities.
So, with that in mind, let's have a look at what these parties are saying about a subject that I think is of interest to readers of this blog:  Immigration.  If anyone reading this blog belongs to one of these parties, and feels that I am misrepresenting the party line, I invite you to tell me so.  I am not one who believes that ignorance is bliss.

Let's start with the parties on the Far Left:  The NPA and the French Communist Party.

NPA - Le Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (the New Anticapitalist Party)
This party was launched in 2009 during the financial crisis.  At that time, they said:
Cette société capitaliste est à bout de souffle. Les gouvernements successifs remettent en cause l’ensemble de nos acquis sociaux et démocratiques.
This capitalist society (France, I presume) is drawing its last breath and its governments are challenging our social and democratic rights.
They received a lot of media attention in the beginning when people were deeply afraid of how the financial crisis was going to impact them.  They seem to draw less attention now that people are calmer and less fearful.  I believe they tap into that well of suspicion that some French citizens have about capitalism and globalization.  They are right when they say that the hard won social rights are being degraded by governments (Left and Right) and they do not believe that the establishment Left wing parties have done an adequate job of defending those rights.  It is not easy, however, to get a clear of their actual program.  Their website reveals much action, less reflection.

Their platform on immigration is hard to discern.  On one hand they are clearly on the side of the "sans papiers" (illegal immigrants) and they defend vigorously the right of every immigrant to be treated decently and with respect.  However, I could not find a policy statement about immigration in general though I did find an excellent must-read article on their site entitled "Pourquoi l'immigration n'est pas un probleme." (Why Immigration is Not a Problem).  I will take them at their word and conclude that they are pro-migrant.

PCF - Parti Communist Francais (French Communist Party)
Yes, America, they still exist.  They have been around since 1920 and I advise you not to hold your breath waiting for their demise.  They have a large membership and they continue to be influential even though the last time they actually participated in a government was back in Mitterand's time.  Their newspaper l'Humanite is available on-line and they have an excellent website.

Their political agenda is available in a series of tracts here and I call your attention to this one in particular,  Ce Que Nous Voulons (What We Want) which was prepared by the three parties that make up the Front de Gauche.  On page 8 they echo what we heard from the NPA:  L'Immigration n'est pas un problème (Immigration is not a problem.)  They write:
La haine des étrangers, la chasse aux immigrés défigurent notre République : il faut en finir !
Les flux migratoires se développent dans le monde, ils mêlent des motivations diverses. La France ne doit pas les craindre, elle ne doit pas mépriser l’immense apport humain et matériel qu’ils lui ont déjà apporté. Non, la présence des immigrés en France n’est pas un problème.
(Hatred of foreigners, the hunting down of immigrants, disfigures our Republic:  it is time to end it!
The migratory flows are increasing in the world for many reasons.  France should not be afraid of them nor should we despise the great human and material contributions that they have already brought us.   No, the presence of immigrants in France is not a problem.)
They go on to say that they understand that zero immigration is not realistic and they would reinstate a unique 10-year residency permit, allow family regroupment, and regularize all the "sans papiers" on French soil.  They would also reverse all the immigration laws passed by the Right since 2002 and institute a new nationality code that would be based on jus soli and would make it easier for foreigners to become citizens after 5 years of residency.  

I don't think they could be clearer or more concrete in what they propose.  I was, quite frankly, very surprised to read the above statement since I have always had the impression that they were anti-migrant in the name of protecting the French worker.  

Tomorrow, let's move toward the center and examine the views of the Socialist Party and the "Greens" (Europe Ecologie les Verts). 

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