Why politicians in France keep talking about crime

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But then came the 1973 oil crisis, economic instability, recession and high unemployment – especially among working class youth who turned to petty crime and caused a rise in delinquency, Laurent said. Bonelli, political scientist and expert in the history of crime in Paris Nanterre. University.

Demographically, France had a young population, with a median age at its post-war low of around 31 – the current median age is around 41. In 1976, France also legalized family reunification, marking the start of an influx of immigrants from Africa to North Africa.

These factors helped make crime a hot issue in the late 1970s, and it has sporadically shaped presidential policy since.

“Security has become a political issue, with politicians making law and order their hallmark,” Bonelli said.

The National Rally, the far-right party formerly known as the National Front, emerged as a political force in the mid-1980s under the leadership of Ms. Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

In 2002, Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin, one of the early favorites, failed to qualify for the second round of the presidential election largely because he was seen as low on crime. Instead, Mr Le Pen hit the runoff phase for the first time, ultimately losing in a landslide against Tory Jacques Chirac.

But in the next presidential election of 2007, Mr. Le Pen performed poorly, losing votes to a politician who had fully grasped the importance of crime as a problem: Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr Sarkozy, as Home Secretary, once said he would clean a suburb or suburb with a high density of immigrants, “with a Kärcher” – a high pressure water hose used to wash down graffiti.

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