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FRANCE: Macron plans changes to allow immigration referendum

French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday he would offer proposals to widen referendums in France to allow a possible ballot on immigration demanded by conservatives and the far right.

His promise in a letter to party leaders comes after a 12-hour meeting last week designed to break deadlock in the National Assembly, or lower house, where Macron’s supporters have no majority but no alternative bloc exists.

The president promised a detailed proposal — which would mean changing referendum rules laid out in France’s constitution — “in the coming weeks”.

That would “allow us to continue our talks, which I hope will reach conclusion when we next meet” in the autumn, he added.

Immigration has been top of the political agenda over the summer as Macron’s camp have failed to bring aboard conservatives for a proposed reform that would toughen conditions for irregular arrivals but allow some undocumented people working in critical industries to remain in France.

Macron wrote that the law would be debated in parliament “from this autumn” ahead of any possible public vote.

There are “known disagreements” on the subject but “it cannot be avoided”, he added.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will be charged with coming up for further proposals on institutional reform, including decentralising France’s notoriously Paris-centric administration and some form of proportional representation in parliament.

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