On the immigration law, The Republicans (LR) have not said their last word. Three months after the adoption of the bill by Parliament and forty days after its partial censorship by the Constitutional Council, the right continues the political fight. According to information from the Playbook Paris newsletter, confirmed by Le Figaro, The Republicans have gathered at least 185 signatures from parliamentarians to initiate a shared initiative referendum procedure (RIP).

In mid-February, Éric Ciotti, Bruno Retailleau and Olivier Marleix presented their troops with a 13-page document entitled “Proposed law reforming access to social benefits for foreigners”. Furious at the censorship of a third of the immigration bill which they had largely contributed to “hardening”, the penned leaders of the right had expressed their desire to submit several rejected measures to a referendum.

The text includes five articles relating to the conditionality of non-contributory social benefits, the transformation of State medical aid (AME) into emergency medical aid (AMU), price reductions on transport tickets, the inclusion in the count of social housing in a municipality of temporary accommodation centers and those of asylum seekers and the impossibility of maintaining for a person rejected the right to asylum in accommodation granted under the national reception system . In addition to the signatures of LR elected officials, two votes from non-registered deputies and one from the Liot group swelled the ranks of signatories, according to a right-wing party executive.

Collecting signatures is only the first step in a long and difficult road to hope for a law. From now on, the Constitutional Council must validate the bill and the shared initiative referendum process. The LRs provide for a “transmission ceremony” of the proposed law to the Constitutional Council “at the end of the week or at the beginning of next week”, according to the same framework.

The Sages of the Rue de Montpensier will then have one month to rule on the validity of the proposal, in particular if it respects the conditions set by article 11 of the Constitution, which limits the scope of the referendum to economic and social questions. “It is difficult to maintain that immigration issues do not affect the organization of public authorities or economic and social policy. And the Constitutional Council admitted that an incidental question, for example fiscal, could give rise to an RIP if the main object falls within the scope of article 11,” comments Jean-Pierre Camby, associate professor at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin.

An interpretation of article 11 at the origin of a doctrinal divergence between constitutionalists. For Anne-Charlène Bezzina, lecturer in public law, “there is a question of interpretation which will arise to know whether this proposal is a reform which concerns a purely economic or social question. In my opinion, there is no doubt that it is not the economy or the social but immigration which is the main object. It is indeed this main object of the law that the Constitutional Council verifies as part of the list of objects authorized by article 11 of the Constitution. For her, the Constitutional Council could therefore censor, this time, a priori the measures.

In the event that the institution chaired by Laurent Fabius validates the proposal, the hardest part would begin for Eric Ciotti’s party. The LR would have nine months to collect the signatures of a tenth of the electorate, or nearly 5 million French people. While such a tour de force has never taken place since the creation of the RIP in 2008, the LR would not even be guaranteed to see their text submitted to the vote of the French. The Assembly and the Senate would then have six months to examine the text. Otherwise, if Parliament does not decide within six months, then the president would be obliged to submit the text to a referendum.