France’s socialist Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, announced on September 24 that “the Roma should return to Romania or Bulgaria” because “these populations have a way of life that is extremely different to ours, and they are obviously in confrontation” with local populations.

“The theme of immigration will be instrumentalised in the run-up to municipal elections in March,” notes Libération

Since the beginning of the summer, right-wing representatives have increasingly resorted to aggressive declarations in the local press to condemn the upsurge in the numbers of asylum seekers in their regions.

At the same time, the daily points out that the minister’s remarks “have reignited an entrenched conflict among socialists between self-proclaimed “realists” — who favour a hardline — and proponents of the grand principles of reception and integration.”