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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La majorité en « guerre », les syndicats en lutte

by Loïc Ramirez

Governing Majority “at War”, Trade Unions in Struggle

Translated Friday 13 August 2010, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Bill Scoble

The government will table its bill on internal security in the French Senate on September 7. This political maneuver aims to overshadow the national strike against retirement “reform” scheduled for the same day.

“Everywhere, you hear the sound of boots,” sang Jean Ferrat. The governing majority, henceforth “on the offensive” and “on all fronts,” as Brice Hortefeux indicated at Bobigny on August 9, is truly determined to win the “national war against insecurity” that was declared in Grenoble on July 30. Hortefeux is the Minister of the Interior, Overseas Territories and Territorial collectives.

Its weapon? The bill on programming for internal security performance (LOPPSI), which will be presented to the Senators on September 7. This measure will be accompanied by a series of amendments and measures proposed by the government, as promised by French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Notably, they include extending the use of electronic tagging, enforcing a minimum 30-year sentence for killers of policemen and policewomen, and stripping foreign-born criminals of their French citizenship. Eric Ciotti, the UMP deputy for Nice, has added penal measures against the parents of juvenile delinquents of up to a 30,000-euro fine and two years in prison.

Hortefeux’s escalation.

Amid this hysterical repression, Brice Hortefeux favors stripping the following groups of their French citizenship: those who practice polygamy, people involved in female circumcision, slave traders, and those guilty of "serious crimes.”

This same September 7, Eric Besson, the Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Mutually-Supportive Development, will defend his immigration bill in the Senate.

The date chosen for all this activity in the legislative branch was not selected by chance: September 7 is also the day chosen by the trade union leaderships (CGT, CFDT, CFTC, UNSA, FSU, Solidaires and FO) to call a strike against the abolition of retirement at age 60. You don’t need to be a clever politician to see that this is a diversionary maneuver on the part of the government, which is thereby trying to overshadow the labor mobilization with the bogeyman of security.

The French government, whose legitimacy is increasingly questioned due to its close relations with the economic elites and its excessive opulence, is apparently trying to escape popular anger through an immoderate plunge into repressive politics. But the government’s legitimacy is questioned to such an extent that it will be difficult for it to maintain this “smokescreen.” Recall that for UMP spokesman Frédéric Lefebvre, “foreigners are a problem,” while for Industry Minister Christian Estrosi “you have to choose between being a Frenchman or a lout.” These declarations have aroused virtually general indignation. In their obstinacy, French president Sarkozy and his government risk pulverizing the republican consensus and opening the door to the most sinister of ideologies.

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