The French Case or the Hidden Dangers of a Long-Term State of Emergency

Abstract : Since January 2015, French politics are regularly shaped by the scourge of terrorist operations carried out on its territory. State of emergency was declared in November 2015 and had several time been renewed since that time. Its legal regime has been modified and strengthened in both November 2015 and July 2016. The aim of this article is twofold. First, it underscores the tremendous extent of the executive power under state of emergency. Second, it aims at showing how state of emergency leads to paradigm shifts that affect the functioning of the French political powers. This change is not limited to security prevailing over liberty, but it is also apparent in many other fields. For instance, politicians tend to view state of emergency as the means needed to fight against a recurring terrorist danger. State of emergency that has been conceived as a legal answer to a temporary threat tends in France to become permanent. Its very nature is thus modified. Another paradigm shift can be seen in the fate of the balance of power doctrine. The classical doctrine according to which Parliament is expected to defend liberty and to impose limits on executive power tends to be forgotten. Not only every steps have been taken in order to avoid primary judicial review of the 20 November 2015 law. But Parliamentary debates also illustrate how much members of Parliament, under the pressure of a traumatised public opinion, are ready to give the executive power even more prerogatives than what is asked for. State of emergency thus appears as a perilous status: not only for everyday liberties but also because of a hidden danger: it may alter in the long run the normal functioning of public institutions.
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Cécile Guérin-Bargues. The French Case or the Hidden Dangers of a Long-Term State of Emergency. The rule of crisis : terrorism, emergency legislation and the rule of law, Springer, 2018, 9783319744728. ⟨hal-01919684⟩

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