Hollande withdraws constitutional reform

François Hollande has withdrawn his legislative proposal on stripping terrorists of their French citizenship. The constitutional reform announced three days after the attacks in Paris in November had also come under fire from within Hollande's own party ranks. What does this setback mean for the president and for French politics?

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Le Soir (BE) /

Hollande missed his chance for reelection

Hollande doesn't have what it takes to be president, the liberal daily Le Soir writes following the collapse of the constitutional reform:

“His method, comprised of a will to compromise and the continual search for harmony, may be fitting for the leader of a party. But his calculations are not what is expected of a statesman. Resorting to this questionable measure was an odious idea from the start. The burial of this plan to strip terrorists of their nationality spells the end of his term in office. Can he still present himself as the presidential candidate of a tattered left after this loss of legitimation? In his own camp this failure will usher in an 'open Season' on Hollande and encourage those calling for primary elections.”

Der Standard (AT) /

President has lost control of the situation

The failure of the constitutional reform spells the end for President François Hollande politically, the centre-left daily Der Standard surmises:

“The loss of authority reinforces the impression that the president is no longer in control of the situation. His ongoing attempt to liberalise French labour laws is looking increasingly wobbly. The trade unions are calling new strikes for today, Thursday. Hollande's handling of the situation is having the same effect as with the counter-terrorism reform: he is turning the left against him without gaining the support of the right. Le Monde ran its Thursday edition with the headline: 'Massive rejection of François Hollande by the left'. Even his party colleagues are advising him against running for re-election in 2017. At this rate one must ask whether he will even be able to hold on until then.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Hollande unable to unite his country

The French government wanted to show with the constitutional reform that it can react to Islamic terror but has failed miserably, the conservative daily Die Welt comments:

“The real reason for the failure isn't the opposition to the reform project but its half-baked character and the resistance that Hollande has faced from his own ranks. ... France's enemies come more often from within than from without. Taking away their passports won't help matters because they remain in the country. For a brief moment after the attacks Hollande cut a fine figure. A dignified president who found the right words. But he was unable to keep the promise he made to the bereaved in the courtyard of Les Invalides: his pledge to unite France in the fight against terror.”

La Croix (FR) /

Talk less, do more!

The government has wasted precious time, the Catholic daily La Croix laments:

“Wouldn't it have been better to use these four months of hair-splitting over citizenship for a careful and well-considered debate on the reform of the labour law? Instead, the draft El-Khomri law was presented in an extremely negative climate for discussion. And the retraction of the constitutional reform worked out after the attacks of November 13 comes at a time when the drama in Brussels makes it clear that the terrorist threat remains extreme. What a glaring paradox. All the players bear partial responsibility. It is high time we turn a new page, talk a bit less and accomplish a bit more.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Entire political elite has failed

The failure of the French constitutional reform is a setback not just for President Hollande but for his opponents too, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments:

“The key question of whether expatriation and subsequent expulsion from the country would really enhance security has hardly been raised. But the handling and withdrawal of the constitutional reform is also a failure for the so-called political elite in Paris. It was not primarily differences regarding content that prevented a compromise or the rescue of at least certain parts of the reform, but rather political intrigues. A year before the elections Hollande's critics and rivals wanted to spoil the president's show. If the politicians indulge in mutual recriminations now, they will offer a nasty spectacle. Their reputation among the people will suffer even more.”