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The indivisibility of the French republic as political theory and constitutional doctrine

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2015

Abstract

Indivisibility of the French republic – sovereignty and French republicanism – universalism in French political thought – spatial and social dimensions of the indivisibility doctrine – indivisibility and identity-based classifications – Dilution of the indivisibility doctrine – a crisis of French universalism

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Articles
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Copyright © The Authors 2015 

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Footnotes

*

Lecturer, School of Law, National University of Ireland, Galway.

References

1 Monstequieu, C., Spirit of the Laws (University of California Press 1977/1748) Book 29, Chapter 18Google Scholar.

2 ‘France is a whole that is sufficient unto itself’. This is taken from Abbé Grégoire’s speech to the Convention in 1792, ‘Rapport sur la réunion de la Savoie à la France’ cited in Vallet, E., ‘L’Autonomie Corse Face à l’Indivisibilité de la République’, 22 French Politics, Culture and Society (2004) p. 51Google Scholar at p. 58. All French-English translations are the author’s unless otherwise stated.

3 See generally Lemaire, F., Le principe d’indivisibilité de la République; mythe et réalité (Presses Universitaires de Rennes 2010)Google Scholar; Debbasch, R. and Roux, A., République’, ‘L’indivisibilité de la, in B. Mathieu et M. Verpeaux (eds.) La république en droit français (Economica 1996)Google Scholar.

4 Lemaire notes that equivalent principles are found, for example, in the Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Turkish and Norwegian constitutions: Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 11.

5 Constitution of 1791, Title II.

6 See generally Lemaire supra n. 3. See also generally Bartelson, J., A Genealogy of Sovereignty (Cambridge University Press 1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

7 Ibid.

8 See Debbasch, R., Le principle révolutionnaire d’unité de d’invisibilité de la République (Economica 1998)Google Scholar.

9 Pettit, P., Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government (Clarendon Press 1997)Google Scholar; Skinner, Q., Liberty before Liberalism (Cambridge University Press 1998)Google Scholar.

10 Hobbes, T., Leviathan: Or the Matter, Forme, and Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill, ed. by I. Shapiro (Yale University Press 2010)Google Scholar; Bodin, J., On Sovereignty: Four Chapters From Six Books of the Commonwealth (Cambridge University Press 1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

11 Pettit, P., On the People’s Terms: a Republican Theory and Model of Democracy (Cambridge University Press 2013)Google Scholar.

12 Pettit, supra n. 11, p. 12.

13 Pettit, supra n. 11, p, 14.

14 Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 16.

15 Lemaire, supra n. 3, p 94. See also Luchaire, F., ‘Les fondements constitutionnels de la décentralisation’, 98 Revue de Droit Public (1982) p. 1543Google Scholar.

16 See Loi no. 82-213 of 2 March 1982. Article 59.6 states: ‘l’émergence du niveau régional en métropole et outre-mer ne porte atteinte ni à l’unité de la République, ni à l’intégrité du territoire’ (‘the emergence of a regional level in the metropole and overseas undermines neither the unity of the Republic nor the integrity of the territory’).

17 In particular, executive power was transferred from the prefect to head of the Conseil Général (the collectivité’s elected assembly). See Luchaire, supra n. 15.

18 Article 72 provides that collectivités territoriales will make decisions using powers that are ‘best exercised at their level’.

19 Under the Fifth Republic, the Conseil Constitutionnel recognised that the indivisibility principle did not preclude secession by colonial territories exercising their right of self-determination. See Conseil Constitutionnel no. 75-59DC, 30 December 1975, Loi relative aux conséquences de l’autodétermination des îles des Comores.

20 Conseil Constitutionnel, no. 2000-428, 4 May 2000. While this right was initially given expression as a right to secession in the postcolonial context, it is now interpreted as encompassing a right for overseas populations within the Republic to change their territorial status. See generally Pourhiet, A.M. Le, ‘Départements d’outre-mer : l’assimilation en questions’, 12 Cahiers du Conseil Constitutionnel (2002) p. 1Google Scholar.

21 Indeed, former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin suggested that the foundational premise of French territorial organisation was ‘the need for consistency so that every citizen, whatever his territory, gets the same rights’: National Assembly debates, 3 July 2002, cited in Hoffman-Martinot, V., ‘The French Republic: One Yet Indivisible?’Google Scholar, in Kersting, N. and A. Vetter (eds.), Reforming Local Government in Europe (Springer 2003) p. 157CrossRefGoogle Scholar at p. 159.

22 See Pastorel, J.P., ‘Le principe d’égalité en outre-mer’, 35 Nouveaux Cahiers du Conseil constitutionnel (2012) p. 1Google Scholar; Saada, E., ‘Citoyens et sujets de l’Empire français: Les usages du droit en situation coloniale’, 53 Genèses (2003) p. 4CrossRefGoogle Scholar

23 The département is the basic and oldest administrative unit of the French republic, both in the métropole and overseas.

24 Under the revised 1958 Constitution, legislation can be differentiated in its application to the départements d’outre-mer, subject to the principle of equality before the law, and albeit only to the extent that is justified by the legislative objective in question in light of situational differences between the métropole and the department in question. Pastorel, supra n. 22, p. 6. See also Conseil Constitutionnel, no. 2003-478 DC, 30 July 2003, Loi organique relative à l’expérimentation par les collectivités territoriales.

25 Articles 72 and 73, Constitution of 1958; see also loi organique 21 juillet 2003.

26 Articles 74 and 74-1, Constitution of 1958.

27 Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 148.

28 See Binet, J.R., ‘Le croissant et la balance: De quelques spécificités du droit applicable à Mayotte au crépuscule de la justice cadiale’, 43 Revue internationale de droit compare (2002) p. 787CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

29 Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 164-5. See also generally Abdallah, A., Le Statut Juridique de Mayotte (Harmattan 2014)Google Scholar; and Pastorel, supra n. 22. See also Conseil Constitutionnel, no. 2003-474, 17 July 2003. See also French Senate report, ‘Départementalisation de Mayotte: sortir de l’ambiguïté, faire face aux responsabilités’, report no. 115. (Paris: Senate 2008). See <www.senat.fr/rap/r08-115/r08-1151.pdf> visited 18 October 2015.

30 See in particular Baubérot, J., Laïcité 1905-2005: entre passion et raison (Seuil 2009)Google Scholar; L’intégrisme républicain contre la laïcité (Editions de l’Aube 2006).

31 See Vallet, supra n. 2.

32 On Corsican autonomy see Vallet, supra n. 2 and M. Bernard, ‘Les statuts de la Corse’, 12 Cahiers du Conseil Constitutionnel (2002) p. 1.

33 Vallet, supra n. 2.

34 See ‘L’outre-mer, F. Lemaire, l’unité et l’indivisibilité de la République’, 35(2) Nouveaux Cahiers du Conseil constitutionnel (2012) p. 1Google Scholar; Conseil Constitutionnel, no. 65−34 L of 2 July, 1965; Conseil d’Etat, no. 77577, 27 February 1970, Saïd Ali Tourqui.

35 Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 176. See also, generally, Verpeaux, M., ‘L’Unité et La Diversité dans la République’, 42 Les Nouveaux Cahiers du Conseil Constitutionnel (2014) p. 7Google Scholar.

36 Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 175-177. See also Brard, Y., ‘Nouvelles-Calédonie et Polynésie française: les ‘lois du pays’ (de la spécialité législative au partage du pouvoir legislative)’, 1 Revue Juridique Polynésienne (2001) p. 4Google Scholar.

37 For Senator Catherine Tasca, this fundamentally compromised the principle of indivisibility, a key component of which, she insisted, is that the ‘legislative power is singular [unique] … that it determines the domain of authority of intervention for local authorities and that this can be changed or revoked at any time’, as cited in Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 177.

38 See in particular Debbasch, supra n. 8.

39 Conseil Constitutionnel, no. 91-290 DC, 9 May 1991 (emphasis added).

40 See further Conseil Constitutionnel, no. 2001-454 DC, 17 January 2002.

41 Conseil Constitutionnel, no. 2000-435 DC, 7 December 2000, loi d’orientation pour l’outre−mer.

42 See Lemaire, supra n. 34.

43 Conseil Constitutionnel, no. 99-412, 15 June 1999.

44 Conseil d’Etat, Advisory Opinion of 7 March 2013. See Roger, P., ‘Le Conseil d’Etat défend l’unicité du peuple francais’, Le Monde, 26 March 2013Google Scholar.

45 Chicot, P.Y., ‘Le principe d’indivisibilité de la République et la question des minorités en Guyane française, à la lumière du cas amérindien’, 12 Pouvoirs dans la Caraïbe (2000) p. 153Google Scholar.

46 Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 85.

47 See particularly Bui-Xuan, O., Le Droit Public Français entre Universalisme et Différencialisme (Economica 2004)Google Scholar. See also Schnapper, D., Qu’est-ce que la citoyenneté?, Gallimard 2000)Google Scholar and La communauté des citoyens: sur l’idée moderne de nation (Gallimard 1994)Google Scholar; Taguieff, P.A., La République enlisée (ed. des Syrtes 2005); F. Constant, Le multiculturalisme (Flammarion 2000)Google Scholar; Lochak, D., in Le droit et les paradoxes de l’universalité (PUF 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

48 See generally ‘Citizenship’, C. Laborde, in E. Berenson et al. (eds.), The French Republic: History, Values, Debates (Cornell University Press 2011) p. 136Google Scholar.

49 Jennings, J. (2011) ‘Universalism’, in E. Berenson et al. (eds.), The French Republic: History, Values, Debates (Cornell University Press 2011) p. 145CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

50 See e.g. Nicolet, C., Histoire, Nation, République (Odile Jacob 2000)Google Scholar.

51 Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 18.

52 Renan, E., Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? (Calmann Lévy 1882/1995)Google Scholar.

53 Kritzman, L., ‘Identity Crises: France, Culture and the Idea of the Nation24 Substance (1995) p. 5CrossRefGoogle Scholar at p. 6.

54 Bui-Xuan, supra n. 47.

55 Nicolet, supra n. 50, p. 30.

56 Cited in Szajkowsk, Z., Jews and the French Revolutions of 1789, 1830 and 1848 (Ktav Publishing House 1970) p. 581Google Scholar.

57 Bui-Xuan, supra n. 47, p. 5.

58 Bui-Xuan, supra n. 47, p. 4; Baubérot, supra n. 30, p. 117.

59 Möschel, M., ‘Race judicata: the Ban on the Use of Ethnic and Racial Statistics in France’, 5 European Constitutional Law Review (2009) p. 197CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Calvès, G., ‘L’hésitation des politiques de lutte contre les discriminations’, 148 CNAF: Informations sociales (2008) p. 34Google Scholar.

60 Pastorel, supra n. 22, p. 3

61 Bui-Xuan, supra n. 47, p. 5. On liberal multiculturalism, see Kymlicka, W., Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights (Oxford University Press 1995)Google Scholar; Taylor, C., Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge University Press 1989)Google Scholar.

62 Hobbes, supra n. 10.

63 Rousseau, J.J., Du Contrat Social (ENAG 1988) (hereinafter The Social Contract) Book I, Chapter 6 (author’s translations)Google Scholar.

64 See generally Cohen, J., Rousseau: A Free Community of Equals (Oxford University Press 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

65 Cohen, supra n. 64.

66 This ‘transforms personal dependence into dependence on the Republic’: Neuhouser, F., ‘Freedom, Dependence and the General Will’, 102 Philosophical Review (1993) p. 363CrossRefGoogle Scholar at p. 390.

67 Rousseau, supra n. 63, Book I, Chapter 9. Pettit, for example, describes Rousseau’s understanding of a ‘total subjection’ of citizen to sovereign. Pettit, supra n. 11, p. 14.

68 Rousseau, supra n. 63, Book I, Chapter 9.

69 By way of contrast, Pettit claims that Rousseau’s scheme, like Hobbes’ account, can tolerate ‘no independent centre of power’, whether internally or externally – but this overlooks the extent to which the principle of sovereign indivisibility is confined to legislative power specifically. Pettit, supra n. 11, p. 226.

70 Riley, P., ‘A Possible Explanation of Rousseau’s General Will’, 64 The American Political Science Review (1970) p. 86CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

71 Rousseau, supra n. 63, Book IV, Chapter 1.

72 Rousseau, supra n. 63, Book I. Indeed, in his constitutional plans for Poland and Corsica, he seems to envisage public power being dissipated and even checked across different sites. Rousseau, J.J., Projet de Constitution pour la Corse (Nautilus 2000)Google Scholar; Rousseau, J.J., ‘Considerations on the Government of Poland’, in F. Watkins, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Political Writings (Thomas Yelsen 1953)Google Scholar. See also Williams, D.L., ‘Modern Theorist of Tyranny? Lessons from Rousseau’s System of Checks and Balances’, 37 Polity (2005) p. 443CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

73 Steinberger notes a terminological confusion in this respect: Rousseau and Hobbes mean quite different things when they use the term ‘sovereign’; for the former, it is an ‘authorizing’ constituent entity; for the latter, an instrumental, governing body. Steinberger, P., ‘Hobbes, Rousseau and the Modern Conception of the State’, 70 The Journal of Politics (2008) p. 595CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Indeed, relatedly, Lemaire notes a commonplace contemporary confusion between the divisible and dissipated nature of sovereign attributes and powers – which may be divided, pooled or shared over different sites – and the unitary nature of the sovereign itself. Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 173-174.

74 See Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 1789, Art. 3: ‘The principle of sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No section of the people, nor any individual, may arrogate to itself its exercise’ (‘Le principe de la souveraineté réside essentiellement dans la nation. Aucune section du peuple ni aucun individu ne peut s’en attribuer l’exercice’). This rhetorical shift of emphasis stemmed from a concern to eschew populist tyranny or class-based factionalism: the ‘people’ might be understood as a discrete, embodied social class whereas the ‘nation’ represented a more transcendent, abstract corpus. Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 56.

75 Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 73.

76 The vesting of sovereignty in such an abstract entity raised the theoretical conundrum of whether, or how, this sovereign power could be manifested or represented without being alienated. See generally Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 64-67.

77 Rousseau, supra n. 63, Book II, Chapter 4.

78 Rousseau, supra n. 63, Book II, Chapter 6.

79 Rousseau, supra n. 63, Book II, Chapter 6.

80 Rousseau, supra n. 63, Book II, Chapter 4.

81 See generally Lemaire, supra n. 3, Chapters 1-3.

82 Lemaire, supra n. 3, Chapters 1-3.

83 Voltaire, 7 Oeuvres de Voltaire Dialogues V (Pourrat 1838).

84 See generally Merryman, J.H. and Pérez-Perdomo, R., The Civil Law Tradition: An Introduction to the Legal Systems of Europe and Latin America (Stanford University Press 2007) Chapters 1-3Google Scholar.

85 Bui-Xuan, supra n. 46, p. 11

86 Laborde, C., Critical Republicanism: The Hijab Controversy and Political Philosophy (Oxford University Press 2008) p. 173CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

87 Barry, B., Culture and Equality: an Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism (Harvard: Harvard University Press 2001)Google Scholar. See also Laborde, C., ‘Secular Philosophy and Muslim Headscarves in Schools’, 13 The Journal of Political Philosophy (2005) p. 305Google Scholar.

88 Conseil Constitutionnel, no. 2004-505DC, 19 November 2008.

89 Indeed it was the centre-right Sarkozy who was most receptive, initially at least, to the Anglo-American terminologies of diversity and affirmative action. See e.g. Sarkozy, N., La République, les Religions, L’Espérance (Cerf 2004)Google Scholar and Baubérot, J., La Laïcité expliquée à Monsieur Sarkozy (Albin Michel 2008)Google Scholar.

90 Lemaire, supra n. 3, p. 75.

91 Conklin, A., A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa 1895-1930 (Stanford University Press 1998)Google Scholar.

92 See generally Durand, B., La Nouvelle Idéologie Française (Editions Stock 2010)Google Scholar.

93 See generally Phillips, A., Multiculturalism without Culture (Princeton University Press 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

94 Jennings, J., ‘Citizenship, Republicanism and Multiculturalism in Contemporary France’, 30 British Journal of Political Studies (2000) p. 575CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

95 See e.g. Daly, E., Laïcité and republicanism during the Sarkozy presidency’, 11 French Politics (2013) p. 182CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

96 On the relationship between multiculturalism and republican universalism, see generallyAmselle,  J.L., Vers un multiculturalisme français. L’empire de la coutume (Aubiers 1996)Google Scholar.

97 See Scott, J.W, Parité: Sexual Equality and the Crisis of French Universalism (University of Chicago Press 2006)Google Scholar; Bereni, L., ‘French Feminists Renegotiate Republican Universalism: The Gender Parity Campaign’, 5 French Politics (2007) p. 191CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

98 Benhabib, S., Review of Joan Wallach Scott’s Parité: Sexual Equality and the Crisis of French Universalism 23 Hypatia (2008) p. 220Google Scholar at p. 222.

99 See e.g. Baubérot, J., La laïcité falsifiée (La Découverte 2012)Google Scholar.

100 Calvès, G., “Il n’y a pas de race ici’: le modèle français à l’épreuve de l’intégration européenne’, 17 Critique internationale (2002) p. 173CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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103 Daly, E., ‘Political liberalism and French national identity in the wake of the face-veiling law’, 9 International Journal of Law in Context (2013) p. 366CrossRefGoogle Scholar.