France’s president said on Wednesday he would not push ahead with plans to change the constitution, including a clause allowing convicted terrorists to be stripped of their French nationality, after parliament failed to agree on the measure.
The plan’s withdrawal is a major blow for Francois Hollande, who had introduced it in an address to parliament at Versailles three days after Islamist militants killed 130 people in Paris.
“Parts of the opposition have been hostile to a revision of the constitution. I deplore this attitude,” Hollande said after a weekly cabinet meeting. “I have decided to end this debate.”
The initiative had divided lawmakers and caused months of heated discussions on what critics said was an inefficient and purely symbolic measure.
Hollande’s plan to insert into the constitution the rules for a state of emergency was also abandoned.
The clause for confiscating passports hit a dead end last week after the opposition-controlled upper house of parliament approved a different version from the one adopted by the Socialist-controlled lower house earlier.
To change the constitution, the government’s proposal needed to be approved by each house of parliament in exactly the same terms.
“It’s going to revive the perception of a president who is not determined, who lacks authority, whose hand is shaking,” said Frederic Dabi, at the pollster Ifop. “It also reinforces the feeling of a term during which reforms have dragged on, got bogged down.”
Putting forward his plan three days after the shootings and bombings of Nov. 13, Hollande had appeared both resolute and consensual, as the measure was favoured by the right. Lawmakers gave him a standing ovation at the rare joint meeting of both houses in Versailles.
But after the shock of the attacks began to fade, many on the left of the ruling Socialist party criticised the measure. In one version, it created a two-tier nation, differentiating between those who could be deprived of their citizenship and those who could not, depending on whether they held dual nationality.
“The president is being dealt a blow by his own political friends,” a former prime minister and conservative senator, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, said on iTele. “The president’s authority over his own troops is being challenged.”
The most notable consequence of the internal rift within the party was the resignation of Hollande’s justice minister, Christiane Taubira, earlier this year.