ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Vers une élection présidentielle sous Etat d’urgence
Translated Monday 12 December 2016, by
On Saturday 10th December, the French government decided to put forward a bill prolonging the state of emergency until 15th July. This "exceptional" state of affairs has been in force since the attacks of 13th November 2015.
The government’s decision was unsurprising, since President Hollande had announced in mid-November that in view of the security situation he wanted to prolong the measure, installed after the November 2015 attacks, until the Presidentil election of April/May. The Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, made the announcement at the end of an extraordinary Cabinet meeting on Saturday morning.
The bill will be debated in the National Assembly on Tuesday and in the Senate on Thursday. The ratification of the bill should avoid any need for the state of emergency to be interrupted around 22nd December, two weeks after the resignation of Manuel Valls’ government, as the law had envisaged. This will be the fifth prolongation, the previous time having been six months after the attacks in Nice on 14th July.
The prolongation until 15th July should allow the Presidential election in April/May and the parliamentary elections in June to be fully covered, thus leaving it for a new government and a new assembly to consider whether or not to end the state of emergency.
Created in 1955 during the Algerian war and toughened up by Parliament last year, the state of emergency allows (for example) the state to impose a form of house arrest on anyone "whose activities are dangerous to public order and security" and to order "police searches of the place of residence, at night or in the day" without needing a judicial warrant.
Similarly, the French authorities can order the provisional closure of theatres and meeting places and "forbid the circulation of people or vehicles" in certain places or at certain times, or institute "protection zones or security zones where people can stay only subject to certain regulations".
President Hollande’s detractors regard the measure as at best ineffective, at worst an attack on fundamental rights.
The opinion of the Conseil d’État) (in French)