Immigration, Integration and the Republican Model in France

51 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 10 Sep 2010

Date Written: 2010


Viewed from the perspective of the last twenty years, which saw the rise in France of a powerful anti-immigrant political movement, the Front National, one might be led to the conclusion that immigration in postwar France has been raging out of control. Yet, despite the remarkable showing of the Front National and its charismatic leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in the 2002 presidential elections (almost one in five votes), France has remained a relatively open, immigration country - a tradition which dates from the middle of the last century. Annual levels of immigration have not fallen much below 100,000 since the early 1950s, the right to asylum has been respected by every postwar government, and France has maintained what is arguably the most liberal naturalization policy in Western Europe.

How can we explain this continuity in the midst of controversy and crisis over the issue of immigration? Has France lost control over the entry of foreign nationals into its territory, as some politicians and pundits suggest? Is there a crisis of immigration control in France today? The continuity in the principles (outputs) and results (outcomes) of French immigration policy is closely linked to the power of the republican tradition, and to the limits of control that are a function of rights-based politics.

Suggested Citation

Hollifield, James F., Immigration, Integration and the Republican Model in France (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

James F. Hollifield (Contact Author)

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