Narrow margin on French constitutional reform

France's National Assembly has also passed the second part of the country's constitutional reform by a narrow margin. It will now be possible to strip convicted terrorists of their citizenship provided they hold citizenship of another country too. The press has harsh words for the measure.

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Le Figaro (FR) /

Conservative majority in Senate will prevail

The French Senate must vote in March on the government's constitutional reform, which the National Assembly passed by a narrow margin this week. François Hollande will have to come to terms with the conservatives pushing through their own version of the bill, the conservative daily Le Figaro comments:

“Everything is now in the hands of the Senate, where the conservatives hold the majority. The president would do well not to point his finger if the Senate goes ahead and modifies the text passed by the National Assembly. Because what does the Senate majority want if not to go back to the ‘spirit of Versailles’ - or in other words precisely what a certain François Hollande promised in Congress? If the left rejects the original version, François Hollande shouldn’t accuse the right of having sabotaged the reform. He'll just have to admit that he has suffered a loss of majority.”

Mediapart (FR) /

Society will be further divided

From now on all Muslims and immigrants will be regarded with suspicion in France, write several anti-racism organisations in a joint piece for the left-leaning Internet magazine Mediapart:

“We must not believe that just because it's symbolic this measure will have no impact on reality. ... On the contrary: turning French terrorists into foreign entities will have very real consequences. Because it weighs heavier on a particular segment of society, this idea will only render nationality more precarious. Because there can be no doubt: as usual, immigrant children and French Muslims living in the poorer neighbourhoods will be the first suspects. Once again they'll be made to feel that they're less French than others, that they're not 'at home' and that they don't come 'from here'. Consequently this symbolic nationalising of the terrorist threat will effectively contribute to racialising the nation.”

Le Quotidien (LU) /

Withdrawing citizenship does more harm than good

The debate over a constitutional reform that would include stripping convicted terrorists of their citizenship began in the French National Assembly on Friday. The centre-left daily Le Quotidien finds the project unreasonable:

“What sense would it make to strip a few people of their citizenship in the heart of Europe? ... None at all. Because this text on removing French nationality only concerns a handful of potential terrorists ready to sacrifice their lives for their cause. Citizenship has no meaning for them, whereas it has so much for those who struggle day after day to integrate and become part of the national community. … The deprivation of nationality is an attack on common sense. And one by one French MPs of all political stripes are coming to understand this.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

French being robbed of their freedom

The human rights organisation Amnesty International criticised the ongoing state of emergency and human rights abuses in France on Thursday. There is every reason for concern, writes Thomas Hanke, Paris correspondent for the liberal business daily Handelsblatt:

“There has been a lot of discussion about withdrawing the citizenship of persons convicted of terrorist acts or crimes against the nation. But the constitutional amendment goes beyond this possibility taken from the far-right National Front's stock. It permanently extends the police force's arsenal and the scope for restricting freedom through instruments like house arrest or imprisonment. The mood in France has changed drastically since the terrorist attacks in November 2015. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks a year ago the French worried about their freedoms. Now that has faded into the background.”

L'Humanité (FR) /

Exploiting people's fears

The government is shamelessly exploiting the fears of the French population, the communist daily L'Humanité believes:

“The executive's stubbornness looks both like an opportunistic focus on security and an authoritarian attempt to keep tight control over French society. François Hollande and [Prime Minister] Manuel Valls feel confirmed in their cynicism and are convinced that their inefficient but spectacular demagogy will allow them to destabilise their political adversaries while reassuring the people. … Fear can be useful when you want to push through opportune lies: terrorism makes the end of the rule of law necessary, unemployment makes it necessary to weaken labour laws, immigration makes it necessary to close borders. … And the danger of the Front National, finally, is meant to force the left to rally around a weak majority which no longer has the support of those who voted for change in 2012.”

Le Monde (FR) /

France threatened with irreversible division

A prolonged state of emergency will only deepen the current rifts in French society, sociologist Didier Fassin warns in the centre-left daily Le Monde:

“The state of emergency won't lead directly to a police state or generalised fear. No, the plans for revising the penal code and banalising the constitution would lead to a sort of segmentation: dividing French society into those who the state claims to protect and those who are already penalized by economic disparities and racial discrimination - and who will now be even less secure than they were before. In the name of defending public order today's social inequalities will only be worsened. But this political cynicism comes at a price: the sense of injustice it fuels will generate resentment for which all of society will one day pay.”