Financial TimesFinancial Times

Is France on the road to a Sixth Republic?

By Simon Kuper

24 Mar 2023 · 11 min read

Editor's Note

"There’s a generalised, long-term rage against the state and its embodiment, the president," writes the FT's Simon Kuper. It’s time, he says, to end the Fifth Republic and its all-powerful presidency.

The demonstrators at Place de la République in Paris were chanting, weirdly, in Italian: “Siamo tutti antifascisti,” — “We are all antifascists.” In French, they targeted their chief enemy, the president: “We are here, even if Macron doesn’t want it.”

Watching them were ranks of massed riot police, who, in the French policing tradition, made no effort to mingle with the crowd and defuse trouble, but instead stood waiting for the moment to unleash their tear gas and batons. The crowd were waiting for it, too. “ACAB,” they chanted, the English abbreviation for “All Cops Are Bastards”. “A-ca-buh”, it came out in French.

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