US News France: The government changes the security law after mass protests

12:35  03 december  2020
12:35  03 december  2020 Source:   spiegel.de

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Emmanuel Macron's government will rewrite a controversial law that would have banned members of the public from filming police officers. The Macron government walked back the plans to implement the controversial “Article 24” of the “global security ” law which would have made it illegal to publish

Adrien Quatennens, an extreme-left MP from Northern France , explained that President Macron’s ruling majority did not understand the people’s will and the issue remains with the entire bill, not only its article 24. The French Senate will vote on the Global Security bill in January and the government says it

After massive protests, the government in Paris withdraws a controversial article of the new security law. Here the star political scientist Jérôme Fourquet talks about the strategy behind the maneuver.

  Frankreich: Die Regierung ändert nach Massenprotesten das Sicherheitsgesetz © IAN LANGSDON / POOL / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

These were days of protest that France experienced last week despite lockdown. Journalists' associations and representatives of the left opposition raged against the French government's new "global security law".

On Saturday, more than 130,000 people across the country took to the streets to demonstrate against the law. Its controversial Article 24 provided that filming police officers during an operation was made a criminal offense, provided that the recordings were made with the intention of harming the officers "physically or mentally". Its implementation would have amounted to a massive restriction of the freedom of the press.

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French government drops draft law curbing filming of police officers. Protests are still allowed during lockdown and people at home have more time to spend on TV and FB to get angry all by themselves. This endangers lives and the economy both! The original comment meant that the government should be extra Expect massive protests for change in the near future, it's in the air.

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The protests and the publication of videos documenting two cases of brutal police violence were followed by crisis meetings in the Élysée Palace lasting several hours. Emmanuel Macron is said to have called Prime Minister Jean Castex and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to order. Both had unnecessarily created a situation in which he, Macron, now has to position himself.

On Monday, the ruling party announced that it would withdraw Article 24, which had been adopted in the first reading. It is to be completely reformulated. A necessary step, said parliamentary group leader Christophe Castaner, the passage met with so much incomprehension that “we now have to question ourselves”.

The bill went back to the conservative Interior Minister Darmanin, who was appointed by President Macron in July. Darmanin's nomination had already been interpreted as part of a new shift to the right by the government, which many now see confirmed. Jérôme Fourquet, political scientist and the most important pollster in the country, explains what is behind this maneuver.

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Protests held in Paris were particularly violent, with tear gas and water cannon deployed to disperse the crowds. The law 's co-author Jean-Michel Fauvergue, a former chief of France ’s elite RAID police unit, dismissed claims the law would provide immunity for police abuse, saying “in no way does this

Thousands across France have turned out for another day of protests against Macron's Security forces had been the subject of criticism in recent weeks after instances of acting brutally towards Despite months of protests , the French government launched the watered-down pension reform bills

SPIEGEL: Strange things have happened in Paris in the past few weeks - the interior minister has seriously demanded that journalists be accredited before demonstrations and that filming of police operations should be criminalized. President Macron let him go on for days with his absurd proposals. An accident or a political strategy?

Fourquet: This is not an accident. Macron has been moving to the right for quite some time. He is already thinking about the presidential elections in spring 2022. I think he is assuming that Marine Le Pen will then still be at a high level of 20 to 25 percent of the vote. He himself will also occupy a central position.

SPIEGEL: And the political left no longer plays a role?

Fourquet: The left is largely battered and divided. The only ones who could still pose a threat to him are the conservatives. That is why he tries to get into their territory with some issues in order to take away voters and prevent them from making it to the second ballot.

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The government backed down after days of mass protests and the action came to an end. Bolivian President Evo Morales, who resigned in November Like fellow protesters in Chile and Lebanon, the mass action in Hong Kong led to the withdrawal of the controversial legislation, but the protests

A woman in Marseille protests against the government 's use of Article 49.3 of the Constitution to bypass parliament over pension reform. - Copyright PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA/AFP or licensors. Share this article.

SPIEGEL: How long has he been pursuing this strategy?

Fourquet: Macron broke the old French party system with his 2017 election. Immediately after the election, he saw that his left hand was on the ground. The right, however, was still relatively solid. Macron already accommodated her back then with the appointment of the conservative Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. The 2019 European elections saw another turn to the right. Now, however, a new phase follows: the conservatives have so far found little to criticize about Macron's economic and social policy. Among other things, he pushed through reforms that they themselves never succeeded in doing. The only field he left to them was security policy and the issue of identity. Macron, like other presidents before him, has recently changed his discourse on these two topics. We are clearly hearing a different, new tone right now.

SPIEGEL: But is the controversial security law really only based on tactical considerations?

Fourquet: There is seldom a single reason for such action. The government reshuffle in July with the appointment of several conservative ministers, including Darmanin, was clearly a result of political calculations. It was no coincidence that Macron put him in the Home Office to clean up, improve relations with the police and do the Sarkozy.

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 Tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday throughout France against the law approved by the police unions, and supported by the right and the extreme right © Francois Mori / AP / SIPA Demonstrators against the law of "global security" on November 28 in Paris MOBILIZATION - Tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday throughout France against the popular law by the police unions, and supported by the right and the extreme right The left on Saturday put aside its differences t

SPIEGEL: You are referring to his time as Interior Minister from 2002 to 2004 ...

Fourquet: Yes. Macron has never called Darmanin to order. But I think there is another reason for the U-turn in security policy. As president, Macron reads police and intelligence reports on a daily basis and is confronted with a reality that he hadn't had much to do with as a former banker and finance minister. That changes the way we look at things. Nonetheless, one important factor remains that the president would like to attract some of the conservative voters to his side. He needs them if he wants to reach the second ballot. Many of the left and liberals who voted for him in 2017 will not do that again. Macron has to compensate for this by winning voters in the conservative political camp.

SPIEGEL: And can this work out?

Fourquet: The need for security is definitely great in the country. The terrorist attacks of the past few months have contributed to this, but also the violent clashes between Chechen gangs in Dijon this summer and attacks on police stations.

According to surveys, 70 percent of all French people thought it was right to liquidate the illegal refugee camp on the Place de la République. A majority of them also agree with the sentence that the police must be better protected and find that the officers are too often victims of blind violence. What has turned the mood in the past few days was the video that showed the brutal mistreatment of the black music producer Michel Zecler by four police officers. It has been viewed over twelve million times. That’s enormous. I think it was this video that made the dispute over the security law so big and forced Macron to act and put his interior minister in his place.

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