France Struggles to Develop a Plan to Address the Causes of Violence

news 04-Jul-2023 Europe

France's Efforts to Counter Violence Diminish as Unrest Subsides

France Struggles to Develop a Plan to Address the Causes of Violence

The unrest in France has continued to subside overnight. The government insists on restoring order, but it appears they lack a comprehensive strategy to combat the underlying causes of the riots.

"Police officers and firefighters: Thank you for your extraordinary efforts in the past nights," tweeted French President Emmanuel Macron overnight. Prior to that, he unexpectedly visited a police station in Paris and the police headquarters.

The message that Macron and the French government wanted to convey seems clear: their priority is to restore order and assure their support for the security forces. This sentiment was echoed by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Monday, stating that today is the moment when order will be restored.

Borne: We Must Ensure Security

During a meeting with representatives from all political groups in the National Assembly, Borne announced not only a return to order but also determined punishment for the youthful rioters. Borne described the meeting as a comprehensive exchange, covering topics such as neighborhood policies, education, parental responsibility, and social media.

When asked about the first steps to be taken, the prime minister had a clear answer: "We must ensure security for the people, elected politicians, traders, and craftsmen. The time for reflection and discussion will continue. There will be more meetings with parliamentary representatives."

Greens Insist on Police Reforms

Contrary to Borne's emphasis, the parliamentary representatives do not agree on this priority list. For instance, representatives from the French Green Party accused the government of wanting to wait out the situation and lacking a vision for long-term solutions after the meeting. "We need a police force that protects and ensures security. But in the Republic, we must have the right to hold high expectations of the police," demanded Senator Guillaume Contard of the Green Party.

He stressed the need for reform, stating, "We must have the courage to address the problems within the police force." His party expects the government to demonstrate this courage as well. "I would like the prime minister to develop a 'Grand Plan' for the police, to restore trust between citizens and the police."

"We Need a Strong State"

However, in the communities affected by the unrest, many are longing for the "return to order" that Prime Minister Borne also called for. Cannes Mayor David Lisnard, a member of the conservative Les Républicains party and chairman of the Association of French Mayors, expressed this sentiment. "The demands for order, justice, and freedom are shared by all, except for criminals who are a minority," he stated.

From his perspective, the most important aspect for the next ten years is to strengthen public education. "We need a strong state. We must get immigration under control: fewer people, but better and more effective integration. Less bureaucracy and better services." At this moment, the state must show that it will not yield to criminals.

A Sense of Bewilderment Prevails

Starting from noon, President Macron will receive around 220 mayors from the communities most affected by the riots at the Élysée Palace. However, despite the clear demands being made, there is a sense of bewilderment regarding how to handle the unrest and what lessons France must learn in the medium and long term.

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