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Article

The subject of Muslim integration has been the focus of much policy development, media engagement, and everyday conversation in France. Because of the strong rhetoric about national identity—a national identity based on Republican ideals of universalism, equality, and French secularism (laïcité)—the question often becomes, “Can Muslims, as Muslims, integrate into French society and ‘be’ French?” In other contexts (e.g., the United States), religion may act as an aid in immigrants’ integration. In Europe, and France specifically, religion is viewed as an absolute hindrance to integration. Because of this, and thanks to a specific migration history of Muslims to France, the colonial grounding for the development of French nationality and secularism, and the French assimilationist model of integration, Muslims are often viewed as, at best, not able to integrate and, at worst, not willing to integrate into French society. The socioeconomic inequality between Muslim and non-Muslim French (as represented by life in the banlieues [suburbs]), the continued labeling of second- and third-generation North African Muslim youth as “immigrants,” the occurrence of terrorist attacks and radicalization on European soil, and the use of religious symbols (whether the head scarf or religious food practices) as symbols of intentional difference all add to the perception that Muslims are, and should be, the subject of integration efforts in France. While the discourse is often that Muslims have failed to integrate into French society through an acceptance and enactment of French values and policies, new research is suggesting that the “failed” integration of Muslims reveals a deeper failure of French Republican universalism, equality, and secularism.

Article

David Paternotte and Massimo Prearo

Four moments can be identified in the development of LGBT activism in France: the tensions between private actions and acting publicly (1954–1974), the movement as an activist project (1974–1989), the first attempts of institutionalization (1989–1994), and the emergence of a space of LGBT activism (1994–2013). These moments are identified based on the nature of the collective action, the internal structure of the movement, the representativeness of national collectives, and the political plurality of the community of the LGBT movement. They show the nonlinear trajectory of the LGBT movement in France and confirm that the project of an LGBT movement, a structured and representative national organization, has never been fully achieved in the country. Two characteristics of the French political and social system contribute to explain this situation: a strong and inaccessible state that transcends civil society, and the impact of Republicanism. The closure of the French state, which restricts the opportunities available to activists, has had a significant impact on activism. It not only contributes to the individualization of protest, but also leads to a radicalization of activism, a limited duration of groups over time, and a lack of centralization, institutionalization, and NGOization of social movement organizations. This closure partly results from the Republicanist ideology, which requires the state to transcend civil society groups and the particular interests they would defend in favor of so-called general will. If the development of Republican ideas has historically facilitated the development of LGBT rights, Republicanism has more recently prevented LGBT activists from articulating a specific political identity.

Article

French civil–military relations are usually described as an example of subordination of the military command to political authorities. This subordination is the legacy of the mutual distrust inherited from the “events” in Algeria and, more specifically, the coups in Algiers in 1958 and 1961 that gave birth to the current Fifth Republic. With the end of the Cold War, civil–military relations have rebalanced to the benefit of general officers because of the increasingly technical nature of external interventions and the consolidation of interprofessional relations with diplomats and industrial networks, facilitating the return of some officers into decision-making circuits. After this functional reintegration, the antiterrorist framing, both outside of the country (Opération Serval in January 2013 in Mali) and within France’s borders (Opération Sentinelle , which followed the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris), seems to recast the military as the forge of the national community. The evolution of the political uses of the military forces in France shows how ambivalent the antiterrorist resources are in the contemporary civil–military game.

Article

Since independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic (CAR) has experienced numerous military coups both successful and unsuccessful, mutinies by disgruntled soldiers and civil wars that have had terrible impacts on civilians. Three career military officers took power by force and led the country for a total of 36 years: Bokassa (1965–1979), Kolingba (1981–1993), and Bozize (2003–2013). From the 1960s to 1990s, both military and civilian rulers politicized, regionalized, and weakened the CAR military by packing it with supporters from their home areas and ethnic groups, and establishing alternative security structures and bringing in foreign troops to secure their regimes. In this period, the CAR military became a Praetorian force obsessed with the country’s internal political power struggles. In the 1990s, in the context of the post-Cold War political liberalization of Africa, the CAR’s transition to democracy was undermined by a succession of army mutinies over lack of pay and other grievances that fatally weakened an already fragile state. A series of civil wars in the 2000s and 2010s resulted in the near dissolution of the CAR military and the partition of the country into a network of fiefdoms dominated by antagonistic local armed factions separated from each other by beleaguered UN peacekeepers.

Article

France turned to European integration out of an awareness of the weakness of its international position in 1950. In particular it was conscious of the way in which it had been marginalized in the debate about the treatment of postwar Germany, forced to watch as a much stronger Federal Republic re-emerged than the French were comfortable with. But it was this defeat that spurred the radicalism of the Schuman Plan—the bold announcement by the French foreign minister in May 1950 that his country was willing jointly to operate its coal and steel sectors with Germany and whichever other European states felt able to join. The idea of building a strong European structure to control both French and German heavy industry was not an idealistic move, but something that would help avoid the likely triumph of German industry and the damage it could do to French recovery. In the process it would save the Monnet Plan, the economic blueprint for French postwar reconstruction put together by the author of the Schuman Plan, Jean Monnet. But it also would advance the wider goal of establishing a European framework within which Germany’s re-emergence could be controlled. That same framework, furthermore, appealed to Adenauer’s Germany as one that would both facilitate the new state’s international rehabilitation and bind the country securely to the Western bloc. To this central Franco-German bargain four other European countries would rally, partly out of enthusiasm for the wider goal of European unity, partly through fear of exclusion from a Europe built exclusively by their two largest neighbors. But crucially for future developments the United Kingdom would choose to abstain principally because it was too content with the European status quo of 1950 to need to embark on institutional experiments. This constituted a choice, the repercussions of which have endured into the early 21st century. The Schuman Plan thus constitutes a vital formative episode in the European integration process: it inaugurated a key French tactic and German response, it determined the cast list of the early integration story, and it introduced an institutional structure and modus operandi that, significantly modified, still lie at the heart of the 21st-century European Union.

Article

Christian Lequesne and Avtansh Behal

The European Union (EU) is a multilevel governance whose dynamics of change cannot be understood outside the perspective of each member state. France has contributed to the politics and policies of the EU, but the EU has also had an impact on French domestic politics and policies. As a founding member state of the European Communities (EC), France has played since the 1950s a major role in the development of European institutions, policies, and reforms leading to the EU. France has also, however, always had a paradoxical position regarding the institutional design of the EU. On one side, France has supported the principle of supranationality in the economic areas of EU integration (market and monetary policy). On the other side, it has preferred the intergovernmental method for foreign policy and defense. France’s influence in the EU was for a long time exercised in co-leadership with Germany. The return of Germany to full sovereignty after its reunification, the enlargements of the EU toward the East, and a growing asymmetry between French and German economies made the Franco-German partnership less central in the 1990s. France’s influence on Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has diminished to the benefit of Germany, while it has remained central for the definition of a EU foreign and security policy. Like most of the EU member states, France has also to cope domestically with a growing politicization of the EU issue in the domestic context since the middle of the 1990s. Opposition to the EU has arisen among French public opinion and has restrained the autonomy of the French executive (president of the republic and government) in the EU negotiations. The dominant narrative in France about EU membership has four main components: being a founding member state, being a big member state, co-leading the EU with Germany, and making sure that the EU maximizes the French national interest. The relationships of the main French institutional actors with the EU focus on the president of the Republic, the prime minister, and the National Parliament, as well as major national courts and interest groups. The political debates on the EU in the French public sphere involve the mainstream political parties, the rise of Euroskepticism, the referendum campaigns on EU issues, and general trends in the public opinion. France’s contributions to the main EU policies include membership in the EMU, the commitment to the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the attitudes toward the enlargement processes, and the future of the EU institutional reforms.

Article

Richard Griffiths

In 1950, France, West Germany, Italy, and the Benelux countries started talks that would culminate in a treaty for a European Defence Community (EDC), a treaty that was signed but never ratified. The initiative for a common European army was the French response to the American demand for a rearmed Germany. Against the background of the North Korean invasion of the South in June 1950 and the numerical superiority of Soviet conventional ground forces on the European continent, US President Truman wanted to see the major increase in US defense capacity in Europe compensated by an equivalent effort in Europe, including a rearmament of Germany. For France, such rearmament, only five years after the end of World War II, was politically unacceptable. With the support of Jean Monnet, Prime Minister René Pléven proposed a scheme for a European army operating within the framework of a single political and military authority. The plan included a European defense minister, appointed by national governments and responsible to a Council of Ministers and a European Assembly. While each state would retain national defense and command structures, there would be no German defense ministry or army. The German troops would be recruited directly into the European army. The Treaty creating a European Defence Community was signed in Paris on May 27, 1952, by all six negotiation parties (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, and Germany), but was not ratified by France, the initiator of the initiative. On August 30, 1954, the French Assembly decided not to put the EDC treaty to a vote, meaning that it in effect rejected the proposal for a European army. The problem of German rearmament was ultimately addressed by admitting West Germany into the Western Union, which was renamed the Western European Union, and by welcoming it as a member of NATO.