Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

FASHION

Paris, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015.

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Politics: parties under pressure

Read more

FOCUS

In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more

  • Hamas and Israel sustain fire despite missed targets

    Read more

  • The third-place playoff: the World Cup game no one wants to play

    Read more

  • Last of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone, dies aged 62

    Read more

  • Ukraine promises retaliation after rebel assault

    Read more

  • Putin revives old Cuban flame and eyes Latin American minerals

    Read more

  • Kerry holds all-night talks with Afghan presidential rivals

    Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Cleveland's NBA fans hail 'return of king' LeBron James

    Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • Magnitude 6.8 quake, small tsunami hit east Japan

    Read more

  • Suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting drops extradition appeal

    Read more

  • Kurdish forces take over two oilfields in northern Iraq

    Read more

  • Are French high school students getting smarter?

    Read more

  • Italy’s Trentin wins seventh stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • In pictures: Chanel, Dior and so much more at the Paris couture shows

    Read more

France

Immigration minister launches great debate on 'national identity'

©

Text by Thibault LIEURADE

Latest update : 2009-11-03

France's minister of immigration and national identity, Eric Besson (left of centre), has launched a debate on French national identity. The opposition, however, has denounced the move as a purely political exercise ahead of March regional elections.

It’s a big day for Eric Besson. As France’s minister of immigration and national identity, Besson will spend the next three months encouraging and monitoring a debate on French national identity that he officially launched on Monday. Certain controversial ideas have already been floated, such as requiring schools to teach the national anthem.

Besson has reportedly sent an information kit to regional officials who have been charged with organising public meetings on the issue. The ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party’s parliamentary groups have also been invited to take part. And Besson’s team has launched an Internet site to gather the varied opinions of the French public on the issue, some of which are likely to be quite controversial.

But those within the political community did not wait for the official launch of the debate to make their opinions heard, with both the left and the right flooding Besson’s office with criticism soon after the debate was first announced on October 25.

The left-of-centre opposition has denounced the whole debate as a political exercise designed to drum up support ahead of March 2010 regional elections. “(French President) Nicolas Sarkozy wants to shore up his support among those who support the far-right National Front,” Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party’s spokesman, told Europe 1 radio.

To prevent the government from gaining the upper hand on a topic so close to the hearts of its supporters, the anti-immigration National Front has criticised the UMP for not going far enough with the debate. Marine Le Pen, second in command at the National Front, on Wednesday requested an interview at the presidential palace.

In announcing his initiative, Besson has also attracted his share of criticism from the ruling party. High commissioner Martin Hirsch called the debate “100% political” and former minister of housing Christine Boutin denounced it as “very risqué”.

Results moved up

Having suffered in the past few weeks from controversies surrounding nepotism charges related to his son, Jean, and the suspected paedophilia tendencies of his minister of culture, Frédéric Mitterrand, Sarkozy has decided to steer the electorate onto safer topics: taxes, security and immigration.  

In a bid to address critics who say the debate is merely an electoral ploy, Besson moved up the date for releasing the results by three weeks to February 4. He told Le Figaro daily that, in doing so, he wished to distance the release of the results somewhat from the March regional polls.

According to a CSA poll published by Le Parisien, 60 percent of those surveyed say they favour having a debate on the subject of national identity. But according to a separate poll by BVA-Canal+ published on Thursday, 64 percent think that the debate is, “above all”, a move geared toward mobilising right-wing voters ahead of regional elections.

Date created : 2009-11-02

  • FRANCE

    Poll shows most French back 'National identity' debate

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)