French President François Hollande returned from vacation on Sunday, August 19, and called on lawmakers to return to work to address the various issues facing France, notably financial measures to confront the European debt crisis, and to continue to act upon the platform that brought him to victory in May, Le Monde and 20 Minutes reported. As reached his 100th day in office on Monday, August 13, the first part of his tenure was met with mixed reviews, as covered by Deutsche Welle and NPR. L’Express reported that polls continued to show a relatively high approval rating, while Le Point criticized the president’s first acts as president as “symbolic, vengeful and dangerous.”
President François Hollande said on Tuesday, August 14, that the government would use all means necessary to stop further violence after a riot broke out near Amiens the night before. Youths in the outskirts of the northern city reacted violently to the forceful arrest of a man for reckless driving, Global Post, TIME and BBC reported. The riot, which saw at least 17 police officers injured and about $1.2 million in property damages, followed a violent incident in the southern city of Toulouse, leading experts to question whether the ongoing tension between disenfranchised youth and security forces could lead to a wider outbreak, as has been seen in France several times in the past decade, according to The LA Times and Marianne 2. Le Nouvel Observateur explored the problem of “banalization” of such recurring violence, while The Guardian looked at the need for security forces to create a less abrasive rapport with the youth populations faced with sub-par housing, high unemployment and social stigma.
As security returned to the fore in political discourse, Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced on Thursday, August 16, that France would create 500 posts for police and gendarmes each year beginning in 2013. President François Hollande had called for a total of 1,000 additional security positions to be created annually during his presidency, Le Nouvel Observateur and Le Monde reported.
Le Nouvel Observateur published excerpts from the work, “Rien ne se passe comme prévu” (Nothing Happens as Predicted), a political portrait providing an intimate look into the campaign of now President François Hollande to be released on Wednesday, August 22. Author Laurent Binet, winner of the 2010 Goncourt Prize for a first novel, was given complete access to Hollande on the campaign trail beginning in summer 2011, just as playwright Yasmina Reza had been granted leading up to 2007 victory of former President Nicolas Sarkozy before producing the controversial “L'Aube le Soir ou la Nuit” (Dawn Evening or Night), as covered by The Telegraph and Ouest-France.
The Catholic Church in France caused controversy with an Assumption prayer to be read across France on Wednesday, August 15, that evoked the Virgin Mary to support “traditional” families in France. This was in response to calls by the Socialist government to extend more rights, including marriage and adoption to same-sex marriage, and also to explore legalizing euthanasia, L’Express and The Chicago Tribune reported. The practice of setting a prayer specifically for France and its people was once common practice but had dwindled since the mid-20th century, according to Libération.