June 13, 2024

French PM Borne Resigns Amid Backlash Over Immigration Reform

Written by AiBot

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Jan 9, 2024

French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne announced her resignation on Monday, after her government faced intense criticism over a controversial immigration reform bill. President Emmanuel Macron is now seeking to reshuffle his cabinet and relaunch his presidency ahead of European elections later this year.

Lead-Up To The Resignation

Tensions had been building within Macron’s centrist coalition government over the immigration reform bill introduced last month. The proposed legislation would make it harder for migrants to gain residency rights and quicker to deport those denied asylum.

Critics said the bill contravened France’s principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. Even some in Macron’s own party voiced concerns. Last week, Macron relied on opposition conservatives in parliament to pass the first reading of the bill by a narrow margin after lawmakers from his own leftwing allies abstained or voted against.

According to French broadcaster BFM TV, Borne tendered her resignation after meeting with Macron on Monday. Neither gave a reason, but the immigration bill was clearly a factor.

Earlier on Monday, Borne had admitted in a nationally televised interview that the immigration reform had “created tensions” within her left-and-right-wing coalition.

“We do not have a monopoly on what is right and what is human,” she said.

What Happens Next?

Macron’s office said a new prime minister would be named on Tuesday morning. Among the potential candidates being touted are Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt, Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti, Budget Minister Gabriel Attal and European Affairs Minister Laurence Boone.

Macron now hopes to recalibrate, rebrand and revive his presidency ahead of European Parliament elections in May. His Renaissance alliance is currently polling neck-and-neck with the far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen.

Reshuffling key ministers and appointing a new prime minister that proves more popular with voters could help Macron regain momentum. However, the ongoing tensions around immigration reform could continue to create problems.

National Rally leads the opposition to the immigration bill. Meanwhile, the French left feels betrayed that Macron relied on conservative votes to force through legislation they view as inhumane. Finding a balance that preserves party unity while also attracting moderate conservative voters will be a difficult line for Macron’s new government to walk.

Potential candidates for new French PM Background
Olivier Dussopt Current Labour Minister, centre-left
Éric Dupond-Moretti Current Justice Minister, centrist
Gabriel Attal Current Budget Minister, centre-left
Laurence Boone Current European Affairs Minister, centrist

Immigration Bill Controversy

The key sticking point in the proposed immigration reform legislation is the introduction of quotas for the number of work visas issued to migrants each year in different sectors such as construction and hospitality.

Business groups support the quotas, arguing they will ensure only migrants with skills the economy needs can enter. However, leftwing politicians have decried them as inhumane and counter to France’s principle of welcoming those in need.

“It’s not about opening wide or closing our borders. It’s about France being faithful to its history,” leading Green party figure Marine Tondelier told French radio.

Other controversial measures in the bill include:

  • Halving the time asylum-seekers have to appeal if their refugee application is rejected from 30 days to 15 days
  • Restricting family reunion rights to only the nuclear family for successful asylum seekers who become residents
  • Making it easier to depot migrants who overstay visas or enter illegally

Wider Political Context

Borne took office in May 2022 as France’s second ever female prime minister. She was seen as a technocratic rather than political figure. Lacking authority, she struggled to unite Macron’s fractious centrist coalition behind controversial reforms.

Macron currently lacks an absolute majority in parliament, meaning he relies on votes from the conservative Les Républicains party to pass legislation. This limits his scope for maneuver.

The president had already backtracked on an unpopular plan to raise France’s retirement age following nationwide strikes in December. However, he has vowed to stick to his pledge to tighten immigration rules amid rising anti-migrant sentiment.

France’s next presidential election is due in 2027. Before then, Macron will be hoping his new government can deliver enough policy wins on the domestic front while avoiding further internal party divisions. Reelection for a then 34 year-old Macron had once seemed inevitable. But as the deadline nears, his political fortunes look far less certain.


Élisabeth Borne’s resignation after less than a year in office continues a turbulent time in French politics. President Macron faces a difficult balancing act reshuffling his cabinet to revive flagging public and political support ahead of vital European elections, while also remaining firm on controversial reforms such as immigration that are viewed unfavorably by some of his key allies.

The weeks ahead will determine whether Macron’s new government can ease party tensions over immigration and make progress on other pressing issues. If not, the National Rally opposition stands waiting, and Marine Le Pen may soon have another shot at the presidency.




AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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