Immigration and integration policy change in France during Sarkozy’s era

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This paper sheds light on the factors behind the introduction of restrictive immigration and integration policy in France between 2002 and 2012, which is closely associated with Nicholas Sarkozy and his party Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). Using the evidence from semi-structured interviews, conducted with The Republicans (UMP) elected representatives, political advisors and civil servants, the paper argues that the introduction of restrictive immigration policies is explained not only through electoral pressure from the radical right Front National, but also by publics’ perceived economic concerns, cultural anxieties around Islam, as well as the effects of the EU integration. The paper also contributes to immigration policy liberalisation scholarship, by highlighting the importance of non-economic benefits migration brings, which take a form of soft power, as a way to increase French influence (rayonnement) in the world, contrary to previous literature that explains liberalisation from economic advantages of skilled migration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalFrench Politics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Mar 2024


  • immigration policy
  • Sarkozy
  • integration policy
  • policy change
  • UMP


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