French far-right error over ban on non-EU dual nationality

‘You can't be French for some things and Uruguayan for others.’ says vice-president defending idea - then later apologises as not current party policy

The policy was fiercely defended by Mr Chenu... but does not exist.
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A senior member of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party has issued an apology after defending a policy to ban French citizens from having dual nationality with non-EU nations – a policy that the party no longer backs.

Sébastien Chenu, an MP and vice-president of the party, made the comments during a TV interview with controversial TV host Cyril Hanouna.

“I’m attached to the idea of only having one nationality,” the MP said, noting the host’s dual French and Tunisian citizenship (Mr Hanouna’s family are of Tunisian Jewish origin). 

“Outside European countries, when you have [another] nationality, you have one because it says a lot about who you are, what you are attached to… you can't be French for some things and Uruguayan for others,” the MP continued. 

This would reportedly affect around five million people.

When the interview had finished, however, other politicians grilled him on his comments, revealing that the policy was not part of the RN’s last manifesto. 

Policy was part of 2017 manifesto but later abandoned

The policy was part of the RN’s 2017 election manifesto, and would have required people holding dual nationality between France and a non-EU country to choose which citizenship to keep.

In theory, it would have forced many immigrants to choose between remaining French – and giving up rights back in their country of origin – or hand back their French citizenship and permanently remain an immigrant in the country if they chose to stay here.

If the RN were to gain power and enact some of their other key policies, this would have put those renouncing French citizenship at a disadvantage for housing and employment opportunities, due to the party’s support of ‘national priority’ for French citizens. 

Read more: Snap French election: What will far-right want if it gains more power?

The dual-nationality policy was dropped from the party’s manifesto in 2022, after Marine Le Pen said it would be too complicated for some people.

“I've met thousands of people [such as] Moroccans who, legally, cannot renounce their nationality because their country forbids it,” she told newspaper Libération in 2022

“I prefer to put that aside because it's like putting salt on open wounds,” she added.

It is unclear how this would have affected dual Franco-British citizens, with the UK being a former member of the EU.

‘No intention’ of going back on the measure

Mr Chenu seemed unaware of the change, however, and it was only after the interview ended he retracted his comments on social media. 

“Interviewed this evening I mentioned abolishing dual nationality: Mea culpa” the post reads.

“[Marine Le Pen] renounced this measure and has no intention of going back on it! At least that's clear. Error corrected,” it continued.

The issue was not mentioned in a one-page policy document issued by the RN yesterday (June 13).

Politicians from other parties were quick to pick up on Mr Chenu’s gaffe. 

Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Morretti posted on social media about the debacle. 

“He spent 10 minutes defending a policy that no longer exists,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter). 

“Marine Le Pen changes her mind so much that even poor Chenu doesn't know where he lives any more,” he added.

The announcement of snap elections less than a month after the European results has caused parties to frantically announce candidates, policies, and alliances for the upcoming elections. 

The right-wing Les Républicains party are currently in a quasi civil war, with senior figures attempting to kick out president Eric Ciotti, after he announced an electoral pact with the far-right without internal discussions. 

Read more: French right throws out leader over his alliance offer to far-right