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defence
(07/21/08) -

French Regret End of Mandatory Military Service

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Most people in France think it was a mistake to abolish mandatory military service 12 years ago, according to a poll by Ifop published in Le Journal du Dimanche. 59 per cent of respondents regret the decision to suspend the practice, while 41 per cent stand by it.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Most people in France think it was a mistake to abolish mandatory military service 12 years ago, according to a poll by Ifop published in Le Journal du Dimanche. 59 per cent of respondents regret the decision to suspend the practice, while 41 per cent stand by it.

In 1798, the Jourdan Act established conscription in France, by deeming every French person "a soldier (who) owes himself in defence of the nation." French conscripts have not been deployed to a war zone since the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence.

In 1996, the French government decided to abolish the mandatory military service. French president Jacques Chirac said the "transformation of Europe’s strategic environment in the post-Cold War era" had made a 500,000 soldier military "excessive and ponderous."

On Jun. 17, French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced a major change of course in the country’s military and security strategies. Sarkozy said France would go back to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and vowed to reinforce intelligence services in order to focus on "the most immediate threat—that of a terrorist attack."

According to official figures, the French army has decreased from close to 500,000 soldiers in 1989 to about 250,000 today—including reserves. Under Sarkozy’s new plan, the number is expected to fall to 225,000.

Pollling Data

Twelve years later, do you regret the suspension of the mandatory military service?

Yes

59%

No

41%

Source: Ifop / Le Journal du Dimanche
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 960 French adults, conducted on Jul. 10 and Jul. 11, 2008. No margin of error was provided.