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French police officers patrol a street during a nationwide lockdown to counter COVID-19 French police officers patrol a street during a nationwide lockdown to counter COVID-19, Paris, April 15, 2020 (AP photo by Christophe Ena).

Will Macron Pay the Price for France’s Heavy-Handed COVID-19 Response?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The violent protests in Paris’ banlieues this week, after an incident of police brutality, are a clear indication of the social tensions fueled by France’s strict national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Neither the violence by police nor the riots come as any surprise, given the history of both in the suburban ghettos surrounding France’s major cities, where much of its immigrant and immigrant-origin population lives.

But the tensions between France’s overstretched security forces and its population extend beyond the banlieues. Combined with popular dissatisfaction over French President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the pandemic, they risk making Macron a lame-duck president, creating a power vacuum that could jeopardize France’s ability to navigate the lengthy crisis ahead. ...

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