France votes to enshrine state of emergency in constitution

The lower house of the French parliament has voted in favour of enshrining in the constitution the process of declaring a state of national emergency, one of a series of controversial amendments the government proposed after November’s Paris attacks.

The measure – which gives the state increased security powers – was voted through by 103 to 26 on Monday, although it met opposition from some leftwing lawmakers and some deputies from the right.

President Francois Hollande imposed a state of emergency in the wake of the jihadist attacks that killed 130 people in the capital on November 13, giving police and security forces sweeping powers to raid houses and hold people under house arrest without judicial oversight.

The lower house’s overwhelming vote in favour of the measure is the first in a series of steps before the constitution is finally revised. As is the case now, parliament would still need to give its approval for a state of emergency lasting more than 12 days. A state of emergency would last for a maximum of four months under the new rules, after which it would need to be renewed by parliament .