You can’t equate a “political adversary and an enemy of the Republic”: This demand was clearly carried out by Albane Branlant, a candidate for Emmabyek Macron’s Renaissance party, who could have stood in the second round of the parliamentary elections but withdrew in favor of the left-wing candidate François Ruffin to help beat the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) in their Somme district. Far from being rhetorical, this demand is an imperative.

In contrast to this resolute and consistent defense of the “republican front” against the far right, the procrastination of leaders of the outgoing governing coalition and, worse still, the blindness of the part of the members of the right-wing Les Républicains who have not allied with the RN, reflect a loss of fundamental political bearings. The situation in France, which in a few days’ time risks being led by the heirs of a long anti-republican political history, calls for a painful but essential review of the hierarchy of priorities. At the top of the hierarchy is the defense of the principles inherited from the French Revolution.

In this respect, the RN’s plans to discriminate against dual nationals, roll back the right to citizenship for people born in France, and create a “national priority” are far less acceptable than any of the other policy platforms submitted to the electorate.

Unconstitutional discrimination

The promise to ban dual-nationals from certain civil servant jobs revives the far right’s long-standing obsession with the “false French,” which, from Charles Maurras’s Action Française monarchist movement to the Vichy regime, fueled hatred of Jews, calling them “unassimilable” and pushing for measures to “denaturalize” them. Today, it targets French people of Muslim culture or religion, accused of being “French on paper” but of dubious allegiance.

Insulting and absurd from an economic, cultural, security and diplomatic point of view, the hunt for dual nationals also amounts to unconstitutional discrimination between French citizens. In the RN’s arsenal, it adds to the astonishing plan to completely abandon jus soli, the right to citizenship for any person born in France, running against the principle of integration by birth through the socialization in France of children of foreigners. This principle has been enshrined in the Constitution or in French law since 1791, and not even Vichy wanted to call it into question. As for the “national priority,” it relies on self-proclaimed “common sense” to attack the constitutional principles of equality and solidarity.

Wind of revolt

What the RN’s first two projects have in common is that they would weaken France’s sovereignty by confining large segments of its population to foreign nationalities. All three measures, by multiplying attacks on the egalitarian and fraternal foundations of our society – in other words, on the republican promise – would provoke anger, resentment and violence. All the while opening up an immediate conflict with the Constitutional Council, whose current president, Laurent Fabius, appointed for nine years by President François Hollande in February 2016, has demonstrated his vigilance on this matter.

If constitutional and historical references appear to carry little weight in the face of the strong wind of revolt represented by the RN’s score in the first round of the elections, political leaders deciding on withdrawals for the second round who ignore or neglect them will bear a heavy responsibility: That of having sold out centuries of republican accomplishments in hazardous electoral bargaining.

Le Monde

Translation of an original article published in French on; the publisher may only be liable for the French version.

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