By Richard Gowan.
Source: The Globalist
26 June 2006
The run up to the 2007 elections in France are bound to be a bitter, hard-fought contest. Though France has no need for a mass conscription army, Richard Gowan writes that the military may become a central campaign issue. In fact, socialist candidate Ségolène Royal is recommending one in an effort to give the government a new option in dealing with civil unrest among its rebellious youth.
Whenever French youth take to the streets, as in March this year, it is not long before Anglo-Saxon commentators are citing "the legacy of 1789" and "the spirit of 1968."
These dates, they imply, demonstrate the anarchic underpinnings of France's politics. But recent Parisian political debate has echoed another tradition stretching back to the 18th century: the idea of the French citizen not as a revolutionary — but as a soldier.
Those who believe Europe has lost its taste for the armed forces may be surprised to see the run-up to next year's French presidential election take a distinctly martial turn.