The opportunist 'feminism' of the French Right


France’s conservative opposition party Les Républicains is readying itself for primary elections in November to decide who will become its candidate in presidential elections next year. In the debates, and speeches at its annual congress earlier this month, the issue of women’s rights has been placed at the fore. But not in the broad context of gender equality, rather as an argument over the issue of Muslim practices in France and the perceptions of a French ‘identity’. Ellen Salvi analyses the rhetoric, and the hypocrisy, of a new-found feminism among a party that remains firmly sexist.

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There was something more than a little incongruous about Nicolas Sarkozy’s declarations at the conservative Les Républicains party congress in the north-western coastal resort of La Baule earlier this month, when he claimed that the party’s militants are “the only ones who today defend to the letter the equality between man and woman”.