French voters split over Syria

French voters appear to be split over military intervention in Syria as the country's politicians debate the issue, according to a new poll. But a different survey suggest that 74 per cent want President Hollande to allow MPs a vote on action.

French MPs debate but do not vote on Syria strike

MPs in France debated a possible military strike in Syria today in both houses of their parliament, but did not vote on any action.

Read: French calls to put possible Syria intervention to a vote

Polls indicate French voters overwhelmingly want their politicians to have a say, and the possibility of an intervention appears to be fairly unpopular, despite President Hollande advocating for such action. Europe Editor James Mates reports from Paris.

More: Timeline: France's support for strike on Syria

French 'most likely to back military intervention in Syria'

A new poll conducted by ComRes for CNN across France, Germany and the UK has revealed a lack of enthusiasm for military intervention in Syria.

Overall, French respondents were more likely to back a strike, but the poll revealed some conflicting views:

  • 32% of French, 20% of German and 16% of UK respondents backed military action
  • 52% of Germans, 36% of French and 23% of UK respondents think intervention would help regime change
  • 39% of UK, 50% of German and 47% of French respondents said military action would prevent future chemical weapons use
  • 30% of UK respondents favoured doing nothing, as did 27% of French people and 22% of Germans.

More: UK public evenly split on military intervention in Syria

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French PM: No action on Syria gives Iran wrong message

Politicians in France have started to debate whether the country should take military action against Syria.

Opening the debate, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said taking no action over Syria's chemical weapons would send the wrong message over Iran's nuclear programme.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault speaking in the French parliament. Credit: APTN Direct

The debate will take place in both houses: the national senate and in the upper house known as the Congress National, but politicians are not expected to vote on the matter.

Timeline: France's support for strike on Syria

France has been a vocal advocate of military action in Syria following an alleged chemical attack on opposition-held areas of the capital Damascus.

  • 30 August: Hollande announces France could take action in Syria without UK
  • 2 September: France releases a summary of its intelligence concluding that Assad's regime was likely to blame for a "massive use of chemical agents"

French opposition UMP party calls for vote on Syria

French politicians have been calling for President Francois Hollande to put the possible intervention in Syria to a vote, as in the US and Britain.

French newspaper Le Monde reports that the main opposition UMP party has called for such a vote to take place, whilst MEP Arnaud Danjean told France 24:

I think there should be a vote of Parliament. We see the skepticism of the people, and we see the skepticism of our allies.

– Arnaud Danjean, french mep

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French calls to put possible Syria intervention to a vote

France's President Francois Hollande is under pressure to follow the US and British examples and ask parliament to vote on possible military action in Syria, according to local press reports.

French President Francois Hollande (R) and German President Joachim Gauck attend a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris
French President Francois Hollande (R) and German President Joachim Gauck attend a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris Credit: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The National Assembly is due to debate the issue later today, but a vote is not scheduled.

Under French law, Mr Hollande is not obliged to seek parliamentary approval for military action until four months after its start.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his German counterpart on Tuesday, Mr Hollande reiterated his expectation that other countries would join his calls for a military response.

Read: Hollande: 'France will not act in Syria without the US'