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Home / World / France's raw recruits sign up for the return of national service

France's raw recruits sign up for the return of national service



  On the Tourcoing parade ground

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The first recruits are volunteers, but SNU's National Assistance Program becomes compulsory

In a field outside Paris, a few hundred teenagers stroll silently through the French national anthem.

It's not the liveliest rendition ever heard. But it is only 8 o'clock in the morning and on a makeshift parade ground they are on unfamiliar territory: militarily precisely organized in straight rows, proper uniforms, for the daily lifting of the French flag.

For the first time in 20 years, French youth are serving in the National Service under a new program introduced by President Emmanuel Macron.

Voluntary pilot program includes two weeks of training followed by two more weeks The new regime appears to be more scout camp than military service

These are the first recruits for the new Service National Universel (SNU). Scout camp is more than old-style military service. It includes two weeks of inpatient training, followed by two weeks of community service.

Mr Macron hopes that the program will promote patriotism and social cohesion among young people in France. But why is he so worried about French pride and brotherhood and will the new program help?

What is included?

The president had wanted a more military program, but the army should have failed in the task of training teenagers of the country.

Instead, the civil program includes a day of courses in orienteering, map reading, and strategy taught by members of the armed forces.

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SEBASTIEN BOZON

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The government wants to bring together young French people from all walks of life

"My father has done military service," complains a disappointed newcomer. "He used to tell me about it, I'd like to do military service like him, but unfortunately that's not possible."

The teenagers here this month are volunteers in a pilot program, but the government plans to do military service from 2026 onwards, and is compulsory for all 1

6-year-olds.

The President says he wants to use the new program to promote "patriotism and social cohesion" among young people.

Why does France need it?

"What's missing is a moment of cohesion," explains Gabriel Attal, Minister for Youth Education, responsible for launching the program. "Young people from different parts of France with different social backgrounds who share their experiences and commitment." Society and land. Another is Marine Le Pen.

President Macron has called French politics a struggle between himself and the populist, right-wing extremist leader with their kind of inside last month in the European elections

Bruno Cautres, a prominent political scientist, says that Mr. Macron does not want to leave the field of patriotism to Marine Le Pen.

"What Macron is trying to show the French public," he says "is that there is no contradiction of being pro-European and patriotic, being pro-European and believing in your country, being pro-European." EU and also proud to be a Frenchman. "

Read more French stories [19659027] Maybe then it is not just patriotism that President Macron wants to promote, but the "right kind" of patriotism.

If so, is compulsory national service the right way to do this?

"It's a very sensitive topic," says Cautres. "Because France is a promise – of freedom, equality, brotherhood."

"But if you look at the young, low-educated French or the young French with non-French origins, you can see the promise of social and political integration does not really exist, so learning the theory will not work." [19659020] What do French teenagers think?

Surveys have shown that a new national service is popular with French voters, but not so much among the teenagers who need to do this.

For Matteo Comar, a 16-year-old spokesman for a national fraternity, Mr. Macron's new program is not just "indoctrination" but hypocritical.

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French teenagers do not seem to be as enthusiastic about the program as their elders

"It's funny because today's government does not promote action for the community at all.

" The principle of the system is to be selfish – to work for yourself, for your money. So they come and say, "It's about community, we have to share things." Yes, we agree. But that's exactly what they do not do at all.

The feeling that the divisions are growing in France has again been underlined by the recent "gilets jaunes" protests across France.

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Media Signature Will the "big debate" of the French president defuse the anger of the demonstrators in the yellow West?

The challenge, according to the French sociologist Michel Wieviorka, is to transform the current social division, crisis and extremism into a political-democratic debate. [19659005] "France [until the 1980s] was an industrial society with a very strong communist party, a strong labor movement and strong unions," he told me.

"There was a relationship between the industrial masters and the workers. There was a strong conflict and people felt that this is the core of a collective life and that there is strong cohesion.

"Today there are many fragments, many different groups, and these groups do not talk, do not argue."

While many in France feel that national identity is fragmented under the pressure of a changing world, it seems that Mr. Macron wants everybody to sing the same tune.


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