Yiannis Souliotis YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

Greece and France, law and order

COMMENT

TAGS: Society

Protesters and police have clashed in the French city of Nantes in recent days over the death of Steve Canico. The 24-year-old had been missing for about a month until his body was recently found in the Loire River. Canico is alleged to have fallen into the river as police broke up a late-night open-air techno music festival. Fourteen concertgoers were pulled out of the water alive, but Canico was not among them. 

The case sparked negative comments across social media over police tactics. A protest on Saturday in memory of the 24-year-old was marred with fresh violence between demonstrators and riot police. Nevertheless, despite these developments, the French police remain very popular among the country’s citizens. A poll published on Sunday in weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) found that 71 percent of respondents said they trust and feel positively disposed toward the police. Only 20 percent said they feel concerned at the sight of the police, while only 6 percent said they feel negatively disposed toward them. Journalists at weekly news magazine L’Express, which reproduced the findings of the survey, noted that the poll was released amid strong criticism of the way the police broke up the Nantes festival and in the wake of months-long clashes between police and “yellow vest” protesters during which riot police came under criticism for their tactics. 

The police are also among the most popular institutions in Greece, despite the fact that crime, lawlessness and police brutality often feature high on the political agenda. A Public Issue survey published in December 2018 found that 89 percent said they trust the country’s armed forces, while the Hellenic Police (ELAS) was the second most trusted institution, with 72 percent.

Two weeks after the latest parliamentary election, Innovation Metrisis Poll assessed the performance of the new conservative government during its first days in power. The survey found that the most popular minister (66 percent) was Michalis Chrysochoidis, the political head of the Hellenic Police, a former member of the Socialist party.

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