France. Plans for changes in labor law triggered several
months of extensive strikes and protests in the spring. A
large proportion of voters, as well as a left wing within
the ruling Socialist Party, opposed proposals to make it
easier for employers to dismiss employees.
A protest movement called Nuit debout ("On the legs all
night") gathered hundreds of thousands of people to
demonstrations around the country and came to apply even
other than labor law. Despite this, in May the government
passed the labor market reform without a vote in the
National Assembly and subsequently managed to pass a vote of
no confidence initiated by the opposition. According to
countryaah, the protests
continued with strikes in public transport and at oil
facilities and nuclear power plants.
On National Day July 14, France was once again subjected
to a major act of violence, which claimed the lives of 86
people and injured over 400. This happened when a truck
plowed on the boardwalk in Nice where people gathered to
watch fireworks. Only after 2 kilometers did it stop when
the police shot the perpetrator, a 31-year-old Tunisian
resident in France. He was described as a mentally unstable
person inspired by violent Islamism.
The state of emergency that has prevailed since the
terrorist attacks in Paris 2015 was just about to be
abolished but was now extended instead.
Just a couple of weeks later, two 19-year-olds took
several people hostage in a church in Normandy and cut the
throat of an 85-year-old priest. The perpetrators, who swore
allegiance to the terrorist sect of the Islamic State and
tried to go to Syria themselves, were shot dead by police.
The attacks sparked a call for stricter regulation of
Muslims and Muslim communities. The right-wing Republican
leader, President Nicolas Sarkozy, advocated that up to
15,000 suspected Islamists be arrested or detained for
prevention. About 30 resorts on the Riviera imposed a ban on
the comprehensive bathing suit burkini, citing, among other
things, that it would run counter to the country's customs
and secular state of affairs. The bans caused a loud debate,
not least when pictures were spread of police ordering
Muslim women on beaches to undress. At the end of August,
the country's highest administrative court upheld the
Burkina ban in a case citing that it violated fundamental
The field cleared during the year ahead of the 2017
presidential election. Sarkozy announced that he wanted to
aim for a return, but when the Republicans held primary
elections in November, he was eliminated in the first round.
The decisive vote was between the former two prime ministers
François Fillon and Alain Juppé. Prior to that, Minister of
Economy Emmanuel Macron had resigned and announced that he
would stand as an independent candidate, while the European
Ecology-Green Party (EELV) appointed Yannick Jadot as his
The presidential election was thus expected to stand
between Fillon and right-wing extremist National Front
candidate Marine Le Pen.
President François Hollande announced that he would not
run for re-election, citing the record-low support for him.
Shortly thereafter, Prime Minister Manuel Valls resigned to
stand in the Socialist Party's primary election in January.
He was replaced by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
A tug of war took place during the year around the
informal migrant camp "The Jungle", which for years has been
in Calais at the mouth of the canal tunnel. Aid
organizations objected to the government's decision to
demolish the camp and previous attempts had been canceled,
but in October the demolition was carried out. A large part
of the migrants now accepted to be relocated to one of
around 300 refugee facilities elsewhere in the country where
they could apply for asylum. Britain received a few hundred
unaccompanied children from France.