Should the government make cuts to public spending in order to reduce the national debt?

President François Holland recently proposed a 2016 budget which cut public spending and introduced a three-year program to grant more than €40 billion in tax breaks to businesses. Critics argue that the caps on spending will hurting the economy and President Holland’s proposed tax breaks are unfairly skewed toward businesses at the expense of households. Proponents argue that the proposals will stimulate the French economy which has an unemployment level of 10% and a growth rate of less than 1%.

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Should France raise or lower the tax rate for corporations?

France currently levies a 34.4% tax on all businesses. The average corporate tax rate worldwide is 22.6%. Opponents of argue that raising the rate will discourage foreign investment and hurt the economy. Proponents argue that the profits corporations generate should be taxed just like citizen's taxes.

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Should the government raise the national minimum wage?

The minimum wage in France is €9.61 per hour per hour for workers who are over 18 years of age and have at least 6 months of training. France has the third highest minimum wage in the EU behind the UK (€10.20) and the Luxembourg (€11.10). France was the first European country to pass a minimum wage law in 1950. In 2013, President François Hollande raised the minimum wage twice even as Germany and other North European countries called for wage restraint in an effort to decrease debt. Mr. Hollande’s wage increases angered both the left, who argued that the wages were not raised enough and the right who argued that the increase would hurt employers.

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Should France raise taxes on the rich?

Australia currently has a progressive tax system whereby high income earners pay a higher percentage of tax than low income tax. A more progressive income tax system has been proposed as a tool towards reducing wealth inequality.

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Should French citizens be allowed to save or invest their money in offshore bank accounts?

An offshore (or foreign) bank account is a bank account you have outside of your country of residence. The benefits of an offshore bank account include tax reduction, privacy, currency diversification, asset protection from lawsuits, and reducing your political risk. In April 2016, Wikileaks released 11.5 million confidential documents, known as the Panama Papers, which provided detailed information on 214,000 offshore companies serviced by the Panamanian Law Firm, Mossack Fonesca. The document exposed how world leaders and wealthy individuals hide money in secret offshore tax shelters. The release of the documents renewed proposals for laws banning the use of offshore accounts and tax havens. Proponents of the of the ban argue they should be outlawed because they have a long history of being vehicles for tax evasion, money laundering, illicit arms dealing and funding terrorism. Opponents of the ban argue that punitive regulations will make it harder for American companies to compete and will further discourage businesses from locating and investing in the United States.

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Should the Work Law be repealed?

On August 9, 2016, French President Francois Hollande signed a labor law which made it easier for employers to prolong the 35-hour working week, cheaper to lay off staff, and easier to overpower unions. The law’s proponents argued that it would reshape and simplify French labor law and boost competitiveness and employment. The law favors collective bargaining at the level of individual companies, in contrast with previous legislation that granted more decision power to industry-wide agreements.

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Should the government break up Amazon, Facebook and Google?

In 2019 the European Union and U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren issued proposals that would regulate Facebook, Google and Amazon. Senator Warren proposed that the U.S. government should designate tech companies who have global revenue of over $25 billion as “platform utilities" and break them up into smaller companies. Senator Warren argues that the companies have “bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else.” Lawmakers in the European Union proposed a set of rules which include a blacklist of unfair trading practices, requirements that companies set up an internal system to handle complaints and allow businesses to group together to sue platforms. Opponents argue that these companies have benefited consumers by providing free online tools and bring more competition into commerce. Opponents also point out that history has shown that dominance in technology is a revolving door and that many companies (including IBM in the 1980’s) have cycled through it with little to no help from the government.

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Should France implement a universal wage?

A universal basic income is a form of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money from the government in addition to any income received from elsewhere. In 2017 French presidential candidates Benoit Hamon and Jean-Luc Bennahmias proposed plan to introduce a universal basic income of €750 (£655) a month, in what they described as a bid to combat the threat of robots taking over three million jobs. No countries in the world currently have a UBI although Finland is set to test it amongst 2000 citizens in late 2017.

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Should pension payments be increased for retired government workers?

A government pension is a fund into which a sum of money is added during the period in which a person is employed by the government. When the government employee retires they are able to receive periodic payments from the fund in order to support themselves. As the birth rate continues to fall and the life expectancy rises governments worldwide are predicting funding shortfalls for pensioners. In 2013 the government implemented new pension rules which included raising the number of years a worker had to be employed by the government to work to 43 years from 41.5 years. The government claims this will help erase the $12 billion shortfall by 2020.

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Do you believe labor unions help or hurt the economy?

Less than 8% of French workers belong to a labor union, which is significantly below Britain (26%), Germany (18%) and America (11%). French law enables unions to have tight controls over how private companies are run on a daily basis. Elected union delegates represent all employees, union members or not, in firms with over 50 staff on both works councils and separate health-and-safety councils. Opponents of France’s unions laws restrict job growth since many private companies hire less than 50 employees to avoid giving unions powers including the placement of office furniture. Proponents believe unions give workers a collective voice that is necessary to negotiate pay and worker safety.

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Should the government add or increase tariffs on products imported into the country?

A tariff is a tax on imports or exports between countries.

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Do you support a universal basic income program?

A Universal Basic Income program is social security program where all citizens of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money from the government. The funding for Universal Basic Income comes from taxation and government owned entities including income from endowments, real estate and natural resources. Several countries, including Finland, India and Brazil, have experimented with a UBI system but have not implemented a permanent program. The longest running UBI system in the world is the Alaska Permanent Fund in the U.S. state of Alaska. In the Alaska Permanent Fund each individual and family receives a monthly sum that is funded by dividends from the state’s oil revenues. Proponents of UBI argue that it will reduce or eliminate poverty by providing everyone with a basic income to cover housing and food. Opponents argue that a UBI would be detrimental to economies by encouraging people to either work less or drop out of the workforce entirely.

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Should the government use economic stimulus to aid the country during times of recession?

An economic stimulus is a monetary or fiscal policy enacted by governments with the intent of stabilizing their economies during a fiscal crisis. The policies include an increase in government spending on infrastructure, tax cuts and lowering interest rates. The French government has asked other EU countries to increase spending in result to the recent economic slowdown. France has asked Germany to invest an additional €50 billion ($63.8 billion) over three years as a way of countering budget cuts in France.

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Should the government classify Bitcoin as a legal currency?

Bitcoin is a type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet, which is like a virtual bank account that allows users to send or receive bitcoins and pay for goods or services. Bitcoin is anonymous, meaning that, while transactions are recorded in a public log, the names of buyers and sellers are never revealed.

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Should there be fewer or more restrictions on current welfare benefits?

In 2011 the level of public spending on the welfare state by the British Government accounted for £113.1 billion, or 16% of government. By 2020 welfare spending will rise to 1/3rd of all spending making it the largest expense followed by housing benefit, council tax benefit, benefits to the unemployed, and benefits to people with low incomes.

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Should employers be required to pay men and women the same salary for the same job?

France has enshrined the principle of equal pay for equal work in its constitution and labor code. The first violations were handed out in 2013 when the government fined two companies for paying their female employees less than their male employees. The fines can amount to as much as one percent of their total wages.

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Should the EU subsidize farmers?

A farm subsidy is a form of financial aid paid to farmers by the government. Farmers in the European Union receive 35% of their incomes in subsidies and farmers in the U.S. receive 28%. Proponents of higher subsidies argue that they are necessary to compete with agriculture exports from other western countries. Opponents argue that the farmers should fend for themselves and point out that 2,300 farmers who do not grow crops receive annual subsidies.

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Should welfare recipients be tested for drugs?

5 U.S. states have passed laws requiring welfare recipients to be tested for drugs. France does not currently test welfare recipients for drugs. Proponents argue that testing will prevent public funds from being used to subsidize drugs habits and help get treatment for those that are addicted to drugs. Opponents argue that it is a waste of money since the tests will cost more money than they save.

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Should the government provide tax incentives to private companies to keep jobs within the country?

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Should the solidarity tax on wealth be abolished?

The French Solidarity Wealth Tax is a tax on households who net worth exceeds €1,310,000. The assets taken into account in the calculation of the ISF include all the assets held in France or abroad of the taxpayer. Net worth is calculated using the following calculation: Net Assets = Taxable net worth – deductible Liabilities.

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Should the government acquire equity stakes in companies it bails out during a recession?

A state-owned enterprise is a business enterprise where the government or state has significant control through full, majority, or significant minority ownership. During the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic advisor, said the Trump administration would consider asking for an equity stake in corporations that needed taxpayer aid. “One of the ideas is, if we provide assistance, we might take an equity position,” Kudlow said Wednesday at the White House, adding that the 2008 bailout of [the automaker General Motors] had been a good deal for the federal government. After the 2008 financial crisis the US Government invested $51 billion into GM’s bankruptcy through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. In 2013 the Government sold its stake in GM for $39 billion. The Center for Automotive Research found that the bailout saved 1.2 million jobs and preserved 34.9 billion in tax revenue. Proponents argue that US taxpayers deserve a return on their investments if private companies need capital. Opponents argue that governments should never own shares of private companies.

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Should bankers’ bonuses be capped at 100% of their pay?

In 2014, the EU passed legislation that capped bankers' bonuses at 100% of their pay or 200% with shareholder approval. Proponents of the cap say that it will reduce incentives for bankers to take excessive risk similar to what led to the 2008 financial crisis. Opponents say that any cap on bankers' pay will push up non-bonus pay and cause bank's costs to rise.

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Do you support the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)?

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, with the aim of promoting trade and multilateral economic growth. The agreement is opposed by unions, charities, NGOs, and environmentalists in Europe who criticize the agreement for reducing regulations on food safety and environmental legislation.

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Should drug traffickers receive the death penalty?

Since 1999, the executions of drug smugglers have become more common in Indonesia, Iran, China and Pakistan. In March 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed executing drug traffickers to fight his country’s opioid epidemic. 32 countries impose the death penalty for drug smuggling. Seven of these countries (China, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore) routinely execute drug offenders. Asia and the Middle East’s tough approach contrasts with many Western countries who have legalized cannabis in recent years (selling cannabis in Saudi Arabia is punished by beheading).

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Should convicted criminals have the right to vote?

Felony disenfranchisement is the exclusion from voting of people otherwise eligible to vote due to conviction of a criminal offense, usually restricted to the more serious class of crimes deemed felonies. Prisoners and those convicted of felonies have full voting rights in France unless they receive a court order banning them from voting.

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Should the government hire private companies to run prisons?

Private prisons are incarceration centers that are run by a for-profit company instead of a government agency. The companies that operate private prisons are paid a per-diem or monthly rate for each prisoner they keep in their facilities. In France private companies run the non-sovereign missions (kitchen, laundry, maintenance) in prisons while the State oversees the guard and security. Opponents of private prisons argue that incarceration is a social responsibility and that entrusting it to for-profit companies is inhumane. Proponents argue that prisons run by private companies are consistently more cost effective than those run by government agencies.

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Should non-violent prisoners be released from jail in order to reduce overcrowding?

French prisons have reached an average rate of occupancy of 116.6%. Overcrowding is mainly present in short-stay prisons, where they hold both sentenced people and people awaiting trial. France’s prisons rank third in Europe for overcrowding according to the International Centre for Prison Studies, with official figures showing there are 68,253 people incarcerated but places for only 58,587. France unveiled plans on Thursday to build 33 new jails and renovate older ones in a bid to ease chronic overcrowding that justice officials say breeds conditions for Islamist radicalisation of prisoners.

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Should article 49.3 be removed from the Constitution?

Article 49 of the French constitution details the relationships of power between the Prime Minister and Parliament. Clause 3 of this article (49.3) gives the government the power to pass a measure without a vote from parliament. The article allows the government to compel the majority if reluctant to adopt a text, and also to accelerate the legislative process, and in particular to end any obstruction from the opposition. The article has been used fewer than 90 times since its inception in 1958. In 2016 the government used the article to pass a labor reform bill which made it easier for employers to prolong the 35-hour working week, cheaper to lay off staff, and easier to overpower unions.

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Should it be illegal to burn the French flag?

Flag desecration is any act that is carried out with the intention of damaging or destroying a national flag in public. This is commonly done in an effort to make a political statement against a nation or its policies. Some nations have acts that ban flag desecration while others have laws that protect the right to destroy a flag as a part of free speech. Some of these laws distinguish between a national flag and those of other countries.

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Should the current number of civil servants be increased or decreased?

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Are you in favor of decriminalizing drug use?

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Should foreigners be banned from funding mosques in France?

In 2016 Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he would consider a temporary ban on the foreign financing of mosques, urging a “new model” for relations with Islam after a spate of jihadi attacks. Proponents argue that it would help prevent foreign entities from funding radical mosques in France and prevent terrorism. Opponents argue that the proposal is illegal under French laws which separate Church and State.

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Should the government regulate social media sites, as a means to prevent fake news and misinformation?

In January 2018 Germany passed the NetzDG law which required platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to take down perceived illegal content within 24 hours or seven days, depending on the charge, or risk a fine of €50 million ($60 million) fines. In July 2018 representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter denied to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee that they censor content for political reasons. During the hearing Republican members of Congress criticized the social media companies for politically motivated practices in removing some content, a charge the companies rejected. In April 2018 the European Union issued a series of proposals that would crack down on “online misinformation and fake news.” In June 2018 President Emmanuel Macron of France proposed a law which would give French authorities the power to immediately halt “the publication of information deemed to be false ahead of elections.”

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Should there be term limits for members of Parliament?

A term limit is a law which limits the length of time a person may serve in an elected office. In 2008 the French government passed a constitution reform which limited the office of the Prime Minister to two consecutive five-year terms. Members of the National Assembly must be re-elected every five years.

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Should social media companies ban political advertising?

In October 2019 Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that his social media company would ban all political advertising. He stated that political messages on the platform should reach users through the recommendation of other users – not through paid reach. Proponents argue that social media companies don’t have the tools to stop the spread of false information since their advertising platforms aren’t moderated by human beings. Opponents argue that the ban will disenfranchise candidates and campaigns who rely on social media for grassroots organizing and fundraising.

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Should the government pass laws which protect whistleblowers?

In December 2016 the French National Assembly passed the Sapin II regime which is a series of laws aimed at combating corruption. The law included a whistleblower protection clause which requires companies with more than 50 employees to establish a framework which protects whistleblowers from retaliation and grants them anonymity. The law does not protect or incentivize whistleblowing by implicated parties and the whistleblower must have firsthand knowledge of the facts.

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Should internet service providers be allowed to speed up access to popular websites (that pay higher rates) at the expense of slowing down access to less popular websites (that pay lower rates)?

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should treat all data on the internet equally.

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Should the government be able to monitor phone calls and emails?

After the Paris attacks in November 2015 the government passed a law which allowed it to monitor phone calls and emails of people suspected of connections to terrorism without the authorization of a judge.  The law also requires Internet service providers to install "black boxes" that are designed to vacuum up and analyze metadata on the Web-browsing and general Internet use habits of millions of people using the Web and to make that data available to intelligence agencies.

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Should teachers be allowed to carry guns at school?

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Should assisted reproductive technology be allowed for lesbian couples?

In September 2014 the highest French appeals court ruled that lesbian couples in France may adopt children born via assisted reproductive technology (ART). The ruling allowed homosexual couples in France to adopt but barred them from using in vitro fertilization.

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Do you support the death penalty?

Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process whereby a person is put to death as a punishment for a crime. France abolished capital punishment in 1981.

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Should transgender athletes be allowed to compete in athletic events?

In 2016 the International Olympic committee ruled that transgender athletes can compete in the Olympics without undergoing sex reassignment surgery. In 2018 the International Association of Athletics Federations, track’s governing body, ruled that women who have more than 5 nano-mols per liter of testosterone in their blood—like South African sprinter and Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya—must either compete against men, or take medication to reduce their natural testosterone levels. The IAAF stated that women in the five-plus category have a “difference of sexual development.” The ruling cited a 2017 study by French researchers as proof that female athletes with testosterone closer to men do better in certain events: 400 meters, 800 meters, 1,500 meters, and the mile. "Our evidence and data show that testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes," said IAAF President Sebastian Coe in a statement.

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Should women be allowed to wear a Niqāb, or face veil, to civic ceremonies?

In 2010, the Senate of France passed an act which prohibited “concealment of the face in public space.” The act was in response to immigrant Muslim women wearing a Niqab or burqas in public spaces. Proponents argue that the ban infringes on individual rights and prevents people from expressing their religious beliefs. Opponents argue that face-coverings prevent the clear identification of a person, which is both a security risk, and a social hindrance within a society which relies on facial recognition and expression in communication.

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Should the government ban cultural ceremonies that involve the killing of animals for entertainment?

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Should terminally ill patients be allowed to end their lives via assisted suicide?

Euthanasia, the practice of ending a life prematurely in order to end pain and suffering, is currently considered a criminal offense. Assisted suicide is currently illegal in France. In 2013, President François Hollande proposed a law legalizing assisted suicide but it was defeated by France's official Ethics Advisory Committee.

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Do you support the legalization of same sex marriage?

In May 2013, the French government legalized same sex marriage. The law allows all married couples to adopt children but does not provide state aid to help same-sex couples procreate. France is the thirteenth country worldwide to allow same-sex couples to marry.

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What is your stance on abortion?

Abortion is a medical procedure resulting in the termination of a human pregnancy and death of a fetus. In 2014 the French government passed a law which allowed women to get an abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy without providing a reason to their healthcare professional. This amended a 1975 law which allowed women to have an abortion if they proved they were in a situation of “duress”.

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Should the military allow women to serve in combat roles?

In France, although women can serve in combat and overall women represent about 19% of all French military personnel, very few women actually serve on the front lines. UK researchers, noting French research from 2006, said 1.7% of women are combat infantry soldiers. Proponents argue that it will help the military retain more women, who tend to leave the services permanently when they have children. Opponents argue that allowing women to serve in these roles would limit the military's ability to fight in combat situations.

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Should gay couples have the same adoption rights as straight couples?

LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other's biological child (step-child adoption) and adoption by a single LGBT person. Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 25 countries. Opponents of LGBT adoption question whether same-sex couples have the ability to be adequate parents while other opponents question whether natural law implies that children of adoption possess a natural right to be raised by heterosexual parents. Since constitutions and statutes usually fail to address the adoption rights of LGBT persons, judicial decisions often determine whether they can serve as parents either individually or as couples.

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Should businesses be required to have women on their board of directors?

In 2011 France's parliament passed a law forcing large companies to reserve at least 40 percent of their boardroom positions for women within six years. The law brings France into line with Norway, where quotas ensuring a minimum level of female representation in boardrooms were introduced in 2003 and Spain, where a similar measure was passed in 2007. In Norway 35.5% of boards contain women directors which is the highest percentage in the world.

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Should Muslim immigrants be banned from entering the country until the government improves its ability to screen out potential terrorists?

An estimated 4.7 million Muslims in France in 2010. France already has one of the largest Muslim populations in Europe. While the French government doesn't allow censuses that ask people about their religious beliefs, independent sources have estimated that the number varies from 5 percent to 12 percent. 

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Should the children of migrants who live in French territories be allowed to join their families?

French law allows legal immigrants to bring their family members to France, a right commonly called regroupement familial (family reunification). Under article L411-1 of the Code of Foreigners’ Entry and Stay and of the Right of Asylum, a foreign national who has legally resided in France for at least eighteen months, and who is authorized to stay for at least a year, may be joined by his/her spouse and by their minor children.

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Should France increase or decrease the amount of temporary work visas given to high-skilled immigrant workers?

Skilled temporary work visas are usually given to foreign scientists, engineers, programmers, architects, executives, and other positions or fields where demand outpaces supply. Most businesses argue that hiring skilled foreign workers allows them to competitively fill positions which are in high demand. Opponents argue that skilled immigrants decrease middle class wages and job tenure.

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Should immigrants be required to pass a citizenship test to demonstrate a basic understanding of our country’s language, history, and government?

The American Civics test is an examination that all immigrants must pass to gain U.S. citizenship. The test asks 10 randomly selected questions which cover U.S. history, the constitution and government. In 2015 Arizona became the first state to