French press review 3 December 2015


President François Hollande causes a stir within leftist ranks as he prepares  to amend the  constituion to extend emergency laws in an unprecedented security turn.


We start with Le Monde’s front page story on what it claims is an elaborate plan by the Elysée’s plan to harden the state of emergency.

According to the evening newspaper, the mechanism being fine tuned will be President Francois Hollande’s political and security response to jihadist attacks on Paris on November 13 in which 130 people were killed.

Le Monde reports that he has received the Presidents of the National Assembly Claude Bartolone and the Senate Gérard Larcher and consulted the State Council on Monday on the projected amendment of the constitution based on the short document in which he justified the declaration of the state of emergency.

According to the newspaper, Hollande is bent on solidifying the judicial terms of the draft legislation before he proceeds with what he considers as the fragile provisions of the April 1955 law laying down the terms of declaring a state of emergency in the country, which stipulates that such laws can only apply in case of imminent peril resulting from a grave threat of public order or in case of events with a character of public calamity, or judged as constituting a grave risk for the government.

The problem according to Le Monde is that under the rather weak provisions of the 1955 law, persons held under house arrest could file constitutional questions, so as to force the judiciary to rule on the legality of their arrest.

According to the newspaper President Francois Hollande had been looking to extend the emergency laws for up to a year but finally settled to keep it in place for six months, up from the current three month period. This to allow legislators and police the time to complete ongoing investigations into the Paris attacks.

The revelations come after police shut down a suspected radical mosque east of Paris in a huge security operation Wednesday, the third to be closed since France declared a state of emergency after last month's Paris attacks. Several papers quote Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve as saying that three so-called "pseudo-cultural associations" linked to the mosque at Lagny-sur-Marne were also being dissolved.

This is the very first time that the government has used its special powers to round up such groups. Two other mosques were closed last week at Gennevilliers in the northern suburbs of Paris and in the small town of L'Arbresle near the central city of Lyon. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve reiterated before parliament the government’s absolute firmness against those who preach hate in France.

Le Figaro reports that the draft bill of the constitutional reform-- scheduled to be presented for approval by the cabinet before Christmas--will not be the tough piece of legislation Hollande is looking to introduce in his security facelift.

It picks out certain provisions which are facing stiff opposition from leftists in the President’s Socialist party: the clause on the loss of nationality not just for foreigners resident in France but people with double nationality and criminals with acquired French citizenship.

The right-wing paper also takes up the strong reservations arising from the left regarding the broadening of police powers. Under the new emergency laws, they will be able to seize property and documents during house raids without prior permission by prosecutors.

Also the President wants to legalize night raids, penalize resistance to police search operations, install video surveillance, a satellite tracking system for rented cars and finally extend the length of storage and use of telephone data of crime suspects from 6 to 8 days.

Libération, says the all-about-security choices President Hollande has made are the last thing anyone from the Left would have expected from him. The paper regrets that he is trying to enforce a so-called “Patriotic act” à la Française, by eroding democratic liberties and falling into the trap set by Daesh.

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