Although the term ‘open society’ has little traction in France, the democratic principles at the core of an open society are embodied by France’s republican national motto of freedom, equality and fraternity (liberté, égalité, fraternité). In their analysis of Voices on Values survey data Catherine Fieschi, Paul Gaudric and Paul Lagneau-Ymonet show that French respondents overwhelmingly support freedom of thought and expression, along with the rule of law, whereas principles specifically concerned with openness are less well regarded.

In seeking to explain the different value ascribed to democratic rights and openness and their relationship the authors identify and discuss two topics: law enforcement and migration. On the former, the authors observed a readiness to accept tougher security measures even if this means a trade-off on some fundamental rights. On migration, there is strong demand for the government to do no more than it does at present to “welcome migrants.”

Drawing on their expert interviews, the authors discuss past and current initiatives to promote an open society in France and compellingly argue why in France open society values should be engaged with at the constitutional level, providing valuable insights and ideas for anyone working on the promotion of an open society in France or across Europe.

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