Far-right party questions president's role as army chief under France's constitution

By Barbara Surk and Sylvie Corbet, 1 July
National Assembly of France (photo credit: Arthur Weidmann via flickr)
National Assembly of France (photo credit: Arthur Weidmann via flickr)
With just three days to go until France’s landmark legislative elections, the country’s far-right leader on Thursday raised the uncomfortable question of who would be in charge of the military if her party takes over the government after the two-round balloting — prompting an angry reaction from President Emmanuel Macron. [ . . . ] The French Constitution states that “the President of the Republic is the head of the armed forces” and also “chairs the councils and higher committees of national defense.” However, the Constitution also states that “the prime minister is responsible for national defense.” Constitutional experts say the exact role of prime minister in foreign policy and defense appears to be subject to interpretation. That’s a question with potentially global fallout: France has nuclear weapons and its troops and military personnel have been deployed in many conflict zones around the world. The last time France had a prime minister and a president from different parties, they broadly agreed on strategic matters of defense and foreign policy. But this time the power-sharing concept known in France as “cohabitation” could be very different, given the animosity between far-right and the far-left politicians. Both blocs appear to deeply resent the business-friendly, centrist president. On the issue of the country’s military command, political historian Jean Garrigues said that “the president is the head of the armed forces, (but) it’s the prime minister who has the armed forces at his disposal.” In practice, he said this means that “if the president decided to send troops on the ground to Ukraine ... the prime minister would be able to block this decision.”
Read the full article here: AP News


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