There will be sanctions and they will be "exemplary", the French Army promised on Thursday about the military who published last week a rostrum in a far-right magazine warning of the "collapse" of France and the risk of an "intervention" by the armed forces if the political leaders do nothing to prevent it. Political outrage over both the article and its electoral manipulation by far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who invited the signatories to join her ranks, has grown in recent days, until receiving a "firm" condemnation. the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, after an initial silence from the government, highly criticized by the left.
The platform added this Thursday more than 15,000 signatures compared to the original thousand, according to the author of the "open letter" to the French Government, the former gendarmerie officer and then yellow vest Jean-Pierre Fabre-Bernadac, who however does not reveal the identity of the new signatories.
A survey by the Harris Interactive institute for the LCI network reveals that 58% of those surveyed (1,613 people) support the signatories. Moreover, a high percentage say they share opinions from the tribune, such as that the laws of the country do not apply throughout the territory (86%). And almost half, 49%, declare in this context favorable to the intervention of the Army, "to guarantee order and security in France", even if they do so without an order.
"This is called a coup," says Jean-Yves Camus, director of the Observatory of political radicalities at the Jean Jaurès Foundation, who however says "very doubtful" about the results of a survey carried out with a small sample and in full debate on a platform that many have heard of (64%), but that few admit to knowing exactly what it is about (38%). And in a heated environment, especially after the attack on Friday at a Rambouillet police station. "I'm not sure that if this survey were done in two or three weeks, we would get the same percentage," he says by phone. "I would like to know if they would react in the same way if one day they woke up and saw tanks in the street."
Beyond the polls, the Government has demanded responsibility before an initiative contrary to all our republican principles, to the honor and duty of the Army, ”as Castex said on Wednesday.
As advanced in Le Parisien the Chief of the General Staff of the Armies, François Lecointre, the generals who signed the rostrum and who are in what in France is called the "second section" – close to retirement, but who could still be called for a mission – will be forced to withdraw.
"I wish that his forced retirement be ordered," said Lecointre. "It is an exceptional procedure that we are going to launch immediately at the request of the Defense Minister (Florence Parly)." All will have to appear before a military superior council. At the end of the process, he indicated, "it is the President of the Republic who signs the withdrawal decree." According to Defense spokesman Hervé Grandjean, the generals could also lose "the right to wear the uniform, their military card and also the right to sign documents adding their gradation." What is sought, he stressed, is that they be "exemplary" sanctions.
Lecointre indicated that so far, in addition to the generals in reserve, 18 active military personnel have been identified among the original signatories, including four officers, who will also have to face a disciplinary process yet to be determined. "My intention is that (the sanctions) are stronger for the higher ranking military (…) the higher the responsibilities, the greater the obligation to be exemplary," he said.
On April 21, a "twenty generals, a hundred high-ranking commanders and more than a thousand other military personnel," according to Valeurs Actuelles, denounced what they consider a "collapse" of France. They attributed it to "a certain anti-racism that seeks a single objective: to create unrest, a hatred between the communities" and an "Islamism and hordes of peripheral neighborhoods" that try to transform parts of France "into territories submissive to dogmas contrary to our own. Constitution".
"Those who run our country must find, imperatively, the necessary courage to eradicate these dangers," claimed the military, who urged French President Emmanuel Macron to "waste no more time" and warned that if they did not It acts in the face of "laxism", it could produce "the intervention of our active comrades".
The trend to the right or to the extreme right in the French armed forces – and the police – is no secret. In 2017, 41% of the military and 54% of the police officers surveyed by the Cevipof institute said they had voted for Le Pen in the first round of the presidential elections, compared to 16% of the entire population.
In March, the daily Mediapart identified at least fifty active military men with neo-Nazi affiliation who, according to Lecointre, finally numbered thirty who have already been sanctioned.
In spite of everything, the military officials assure that problems such as the rostrum are punctual – it is signed by 18 active soldiers out of a total of 210,000 – and that the majority, regardless of their ideology, respect the neutrality imposed on them by the uniform. "The only flag we carry is the French tricolor," stressed Lecointre, who also categorically rejects any coup temptation among the French armed forces. "The ghost of a putsch (coup) seems out of place to me. There is not the slightest temptation of that type, ”he asserted. Nor is Camus uneasy. "Honestly, I don't believe in the hypothesis of seeing tanks on the streets of Paris."