is the executive taking a political risk by opening this breach?

The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, announces the coming end of land rights in Mayotte. Is this constitutional reform possible?


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The French Minister of the Interior, January 22, 2024. (ALEXIS SCIARD / MAXPPP)

Visiting Mayotte, Gérald Darmanin announced, Sunday February 11, that the executive wants to revise the Constitution to eliminate land rights in this archipelago in the Indian Ocean. A strong, radical measure, as the Minister of the Interior himself recognizes, to deal with an explosive situation. Mayotte is drowning in illegal immigration, particularly from the Comoros. It is estimated at 150,000 people, a third of the island’s total population. Insecurity is exploding, residents have been setting up roadblocks for several weeks to demand that the State restore order. In response, Emmanuel Macron therefore wants to remove the 101st French department from the national legislative framework. An exceptional regime has already existed since 2018 since one of the two foreign parents must have been in a legal situation for at least three months for their child to obtain French nationality. The head of state wants to go much further. A child born in Mayotte must have at least one French parent to acquire nationality.

A referendum or the vote of Congress

Land law is at the heart of the legal definition of nationality in our republican corpus. To remove it, even exceptionally in a single department, is to affect a foundation of our law. And call into question the principle of equality of citizens throughout the country, which angers a good part of the left. Emmanuel Macron must therefore reform the Constitution. Either by referendum, or by convening a Congress, a procedure which requires the adoption of the same text by the two Assemblies then its approval by 3/5 of the parliamentarians. A threshold achievable if the right approves the text, provided that the majority does not divide as it did in December on the immigration law.

The National Rally is going to outdo one another. The RN in fact wants to abolish land law throughout the country to replace it with blood law. He will therefore rely on the Mahorais precedent to claim a new “ideological victory”, even if the elected representatives of Mayotte of all labels are demanding this measure on their island. As we can see, by touching on land law, Emmanuel Macron is taking a real political and legal risk. He walks on a wire. To avoid the spiral desired by the RN, the head of state should therefore opt for Congress rather than calling a referendum which would very likely ignite the country on a passionate issue.

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