Fractious Immigration Vote Exposes Cracks in Macron’s Alliance

Members of France’s government tried on Wednesday to smooth over the fissures that have appeared in President Emmanuel Macron’s coalition after Parliament passed an immigration bill that was toughened under right-wing pressure.

Although 59 lawmakers in Mr. Macron’s centrist alliance — nearly a quarter of its members — abstained or voted against the bill in the National Assembly, the legislature’s lower house, top government officials insisted on Wednesday morning that Mr. Macron was not facing a major rebellion.

“There is no crisis of the majority,” Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, a Macron appointee, told the radio station France Inter. She added, “We wanted to pass a law on useful, efficient measures, awaited by our fellow citizens, with two objectives: to more effectively remove those who have no right to be in France and to better support those we want to welcome.”

Olivier Véran, the government spokesman, said that the health minister, Aurélien Rousseau, had resigned over the bill, but Mr. Véran denied that any “ministerial revolt” was underway. Mr. Macron is expected to defend the bill on Wednesday evening in a television interview.

Ms. Borne said she did not blame the members of her party and its allies for voting against the bill, which creates one-year, temporary residency permits for some skilled workers, streamlines the asylum process and tightens rules on whether foreigners can work, live or study in France. The measures had been rapidly changed in the week before Tuesday’s vote after lawmakers in the lower house unexpectedly rejected it without further discussion.

Ms. Borne also criticized Marine Le Pen and her far-right National Rally party for its last-minute decision to support the bill, in what Ms. Borne called a “crude maneuver” intended to put the government in an awkward position.

Ms. Le Pen on Tuesday described the bill’s approval as “a great ideological victory for our movement.”

Sacha Houlié, one of the most prominent left-leaning members in Renaissance, Mr. Macron’s party, told the radio channel RTL on Wednesday morning that the bill’s original spirit was to “be mean with those who are mean and nice with those who are nice,” repeating the words of Gérald Darmanin, Mr. Macron’s interior minister.

But Mr. Houlié called the final law “excessively mean,” citing rules echoing longtime demands from the far right to make it harder for immigrants to legally bring over family members, to delay access to state subsidies like housing aid and to require that children born to foreigners in France request French citizenship upon reaching adulthood, rather than having it granted automatically.

Mr. Houlié also said that some of the bill could be deemed unconstitutional by the highest body in France that deals with such questions, the Constitutional Council, which is expected to rule on it in the coming weeks. But he pushed back on the idea that Mr. Macron was now hamstrung for the remainder of his second term, which ends in 2027, because of a weakened hold on his majority.

“There will be other laws to show us that Macronism is about going beyond the left and the right,” Mr. Houlié said.

Still, Mr. Macron does not have an absolute majority in the lower house, and some fissures in his governing alliance appeared to grow wider on Wednesday.

In addition to Mr. Rousseau’s resignation, one lawmaker belonging to Horizons, a small centrist party allied with Mr. Macron, left the coalition in the lower house over the immigration bill.

“Unfortunately, I think that the majority is coming out of this fractured,” the lawmaker, Jean-Charles Larsonneur, told the radio station France Bleu.

Yaël Braun-Pivet, a top Macron ally who is president of the National Assembly, acknowledged that the parliamentary majority was experiencing a “rather painful moment,” but she said that it was still solid.

“You rarely get a bill that suits you 100 percent,” Ms. Braun-Pivet told the news channel BFMTV, noting that measures like restricting access to welfare benefits for foreigners with children had left her “extremely bothered” even though she considered many other measures in the bill to be necessary.

“This majority is diverse — it raises questions,” she added. “But it is united behind the president.”