While the U.S. is in the middle of the Republican primaries, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is aggressively campaigning for the upcoming presidential election there. In an effort to bolster re-election votes, he defended his plan to cut the amount of immigrants coming into France by half. Sarkozy believes there are too many foreigners in France and the system to integrate them is “working more and more badly.” If reelected, he plans to create tougher qualification rules for residency and restrict benefit payments to immigrants who have been in the country for 10 years.
The president, whose father was a Hungarian immigrant, is lagging in opinion polls against Socialist candidate Francois Hollande and is also competing against the far-right National Front party led by Marine le Pen. Sarkozy, who’s been in office since 2007, made a controversial decision earlier this week to not give special preference for halal meat in schools and not separating swimming hours for Muslim women in public pools. So far, his campaign seems to have little effect on public opinion with his main opponent, as Hollande is leading by 54 percent in polls.
Will being more sensitive to immigrants help Sarkozy’s campaign or does France seem over his wishy-washy policies entirely?