Two-thirds of French people distrust their government in the fight against terrorism, a poll conducted after the terror attack in Nice found.
The majority of respondents wanted more surveillance and detention powers for police, harsher sentences for those involved in terrorism and an increase in police, military and intelligence personnel, the poll, conducted by IFOP for Le Figaro, showed.
The findings come as Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s former president and a potential presidential candidate in 2017, criticized the government for not doing more to tackle terrorism.
“Everything that could be done against terrorism in the past 18 months has not been done,” Sarkozy said on TF1 Sunday.
Sarkozy proposed a series of measures such as deporting foreign nationals suspected of terrorism, closing Salafist mosques, preventatively detaining terror suspects or tracking them through electronic tags, Le Monde reports.
Forensic police investigate the truck at the scene of the terror attack in NIce
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve defended the government’s counter-terrorism response in a statement published in the wake of Sarkozy’s comments, saying: “No government has ever done as much as we did to fight against terrorism.”
The statement cited a string of measures aimed at boosting police numbers, strengthening anti-terrorism laws and increasing terrorism prevention programs. “16 attacks have been avoided on French soil since 2013,” the statement said.
Valls and Cazeneuve rejected some of Sarkozy’s proposed measures, arguing preventative detention was not legal under the French constitution, which “guarantees public freedom.”
“Arbitrariness is not constitutional. Furthermore, it is not acceptable nor efficient,” the statement said.