France's Le Pen proposes referendum on immigration if elected president


FILE PHOTO: French far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) party leader Marine Le Pen delivers a speech in reaction to the outcomes of the second round of French regional and departmental elections, in Nanterre, near Paris, France June 27, 2021. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

PARIS (Reuters) - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen said on Monday that if she is elected president in the 2022 election, she will call a referendum proposing drastic limits on immigration.

Le Pen said on France 2 television the referendum would propose strict criteria for entering French territory and for acquiring French nationality, as well as giving French citizens priority access to social housing, jobs and social security benefits.

"The referendum will propose a complete draft bill that will aim to drastically regulate immigration," said Le Pen, who will be the candidate of the Rassemblement National party in the vote for president in April.

Referendums are allowed under the French constitution but are rarely used. The last major referendum was in 2005, when French people voted against France ratifying a European Constitution.

In 2017, Le Pen made it to the second round of the presidential election, but was defeated by centrist Emmanuel Macron, who won more than 66% of the vote.

Macron has not yet said whether he will stand for re-election, but opinion polls show him and Le Pen as the likely two candidates to make it through to the second round, with Macron seen as the eventual winner.

Le Pen's chances of making it to the runoff could be jeopardised by a possible presidential run of right-wing talk-show star Eric Zemmour, who could split the far-right vote and allow a centre-right challenger to face Macron.

"I'm not worried. I am convinced the French people will place us against Emmanuel Macron because we defend very different models of society. He stands for unregulated globalisation, I defend the nation, which remains the best structure to defend our identity, security, freedom and prosperity," she said.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by Grant McCool)

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