Book review by Najete Michell
La Laicite Falsifiée [State Secularism Falsified] by Jean Beauberot
The question of what is known as ‘laïcité’ has raised passions in French politics for more than a decade.
It was in the name of ‘laïcité’ that laws were passed first prohibiting the hijab in schools, then the niqab in the street. Both led to increased Islamophobia. And now this is extending to the consideration of new laws prohibiting children’s nannies and mothers accompanying their children on school trips from wearing the hijab.
By Najete Michell
The by-election on 23rd June in Villeneuve sur Lot was a wake up call for the French political class. The second round run-off posed the question of whether the National Front candidate would win in the election for this Southern France parliamentary seat.
In the event, the NF candidate lost, but he nevertheless got 46 per cent of the vote in the run off against the UMP, apparently getting 7,000 more votes than in the first round, although the exact figures have yet to be released.
By Jane West
A recent by-election in Oise, just north of Paris, has underlined that the austerity policies of Hollande’s French Socialist Party government are not only leading to a collapse in its support, but also to a dangerous growth of the extreme right.
It should also be a wake up call for the anti-fascist movement in the country, which remains weak and divided.
Since being elected on 6 May the Hollande government appeared to lack direction on several issues, reflecting pressures from the right and the left.
Critique of the government has focused on it ‘not communicating’ and for postponing difficult decisions.
All this hesitation succeeded in was to make nobody happy, reflected in a rising dissatisfaction rate, up to 58 per cent in the latest polls.
By Abelle Moreau
The outcome of the French elections marks a turn in the political situation in France, which will now play out with implications for all parties.
Francois Hollande’s ‘honeymoon’ with French voters has been one of the shortest on record.
Having run his election campaign claiming he would reject Sarkozy’s austerity policies and insist on a ‘growth strategy’ alongside debt reduction, no new policies have materialised.
At last Sarkozy has been defeated! A relief for the French population after 5 years of a huge Thatcher-like offensive against the French welfare state, and the daily injection of racist and Islamophobic poison.
However, despite the opposition to Sarkozy, Hollande only won by 51.6 per cent and with only 1.1 million more votes than Sarkozy – a narrow victory, especially compared to what the polls had previously predicted.
by Marie Dupont
The campaign for the 1st round of the presidential elections in France were marked by an unusually high level of volatility and instability as regards voting intentions. Polls showed trends which kept crossing and recrossing each other between Sarkozy and Hollande, as well as ‘third’ candidates. They also showed a high percentage of people not knowing how they would vote several days before the elections. Also 25% of peopled changed their minds on who to vote during the course of the campaign. Polls also indicated a high a level of expected abstention (30%) but in the end this was 20%.
The Front de Gauche (Left Front), an electoral coalition on the left, made a strong showing in the French Presidential election first round on Sunday 22 April. It secured 11.1 per cent of the vote, with more than 3.9 million votes. Its candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, led a dynamic campaign which drew large enthusiastic crowds to its rallies. He issued the following statement (on 23 April) following the announcement of the results.
Sarkozy’s introduction of the legal ban on wearing the full face veil in France is an indication of the degree to which right-wing governments across Europe are prepared to try to deflect anger at attacks on working class living standards onto innocent scapegoats – in this case approximately 2000 Muslim women in France, less than 0.2% of the population, who wear a Burqa or Niqab.
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