France’s Socialist president has invoked a national political truce, for unity, while the government combats jihadist terrorism in the wake of the attacks in Paris on Friday.
On Sunday, Francois Hollande, who had called the attacks an act of war, invited France’s party heads to the Elysee palace.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, centre-right, who leads the main opposition les Republicains party, listed his ideas for national unity.
Sarkozy said: “The word ‘war’ is not one spoken at random, or lightly. I told President Hollande it seems to me we should build appropriate responses, namely a change in our foreign policy, decisions at a Europe-wide level, and drastic modifications to our security policy.”
As Hollande gradually reveals his government’s increasingly militarised anti-jihad strategy, Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing Front National, was also part of the drive for national consensus.
Le Pen said she is pressing to make strong measures: “We have asked that these controls be made perennial, so France redefines its borders definitively.”
Prime Minister Manuel Valls never far away, on Saturday Hollande spoke to the country for the third time following Friday’s attacks.
Hollande said: “I appeal for unity, calmly, together. I will address the joint upper and lower houses of parliament in Versailles on Monday, to rally the nation in this ordeal.”
When Valls spoke to the National Assembly in January, after the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket killings, politicians of all shades supported the government.
This time, the civilian death toll is France’s worst since World War Two, not journalists or symbols of the republic or Jews, and in three weeks the country plans to hold regional elections.