The topic of migration is at the heart of public and political debate in France and regularly makes it onto the political agenda. In 2018 President Emmanuel Macron introduced a new legislative package on asylum and immigration law, which lead to fierce debate. The topic of migration also played an important role in the Grand débat national (Great National Debate), which was Macron’s government’s reaction to the protests of the yellow vest (Gilets jaunes) movement. Populist parties for their part have repeatedly taken up the topic of migration and – as was clearly evident with the example of the signing of the global migration pact (Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration) – exploited it for internal political purposes. However, France is also faced with important refugee policy issues in the European context, which concern, among other issues, how to deal with the refugee boats and the (quota-based) allocation of refugees.
How are discussions about such issues conducted in public and in politics? What lines of conflict are revealed in the process? Taking into account historical developments in French migration policy the project examines the role played by the topic of migration in the current political and societal debate in France. It shows how migration topics are mobilised time and again both in everyday politics and during election campaigns in a country with a long tradition of immigration, thereby making them the focus of attention.