The number of people given French citizenship this year is likely to soar 45 per cent from 2015’s figure, with the vast majority of “new French” from North Africa. The spike follows a concerted push by the ruling Socialist Party to naturalise 100,000 people a year. In an investigative report, monthly journal Causeur notes that the sharp uptick in naturalisations far exceeds previous patterns and asks whether agencies’ rush to grant citizenship to more “new French” is a coincidence against the backdrop of presidential elections in 2017.
In 2012, as Interior Minister, the now-Prime Minister Manuel Valls
took a wrecking ball to the previous centre-right government’s
naturalisation criteria, abolishing the multiple choice tests on French
culture and values and the need for candidates to be employed on a
Branding the previous government’s policies on naturalisation the
result of a “France that doubts, looks at the world with suspicion”,
that he wanted to see 100,000 people a year given French citizenship.
The Socialist politician also said he hoped a further 20,000 spouses of
French citizens would be naturalised each year through marriage.
that it is very much an “open secret” that in recent months the
department which manages accession to French nationality has been “a
machine that is naturalising in full swing”.
Reportedly, naturalisations have risen at a rate far higher than in
recent years. Between 2013 and 2015 the rate at which the decree was
given increased by 17 per cent, whilst it had halved between 2010 and
2012 before Valls took office and modified the rules.
In 2015 the department had more than met the Prime Minister’s goal of 100,000, naturalising 113,603 people. Causeur discovered that the number of “new French” this year could exceed last year’s total by 45 per cent.
The majority of people who are being granted citizenship are not
European, accounting for 78 per cent of the total. Moroccans, Algerians,
and Tunisians top the list of “new French”, followed by Turks and
Causeur notes that applications for citizenship are received
by the sub-directorate of access to French nationality of the Interior
Ministry, where they are approved or refused, and then sent on to the
central record keeping service which realises the process.
The journal found that this service “has a stock of 10,000 pending
cases which have already been accepted by the Interior Ministry”,
something which Causeur states is “extremely rare”.
With the presidential election set for next year, polls have for months shown president François Hollande losing to all likely adversaries. According to a 2012 survey
of 10,000 voters, 93 per cent of Muslims in France voted for the
Socialist Party president, who is the most unpopular head of France in
In his successful presidential campaign, Hollande promised an amnesty
to all of the estimated 400,000 Muslims illegally in France.
Now a huge, and growing, electoral bloc, commentators have observed
that Muslims in France decided the election. An estimated 1.7 million
of them voted for Hollande in 2012, who beat incumbent president Nicolas
Sarkozy by just 1.1 million votes.