French lawmakers urge fix for 60-year-old typo in constitution


French lawmakers are pushing for an official correction to a decades-old grammatical error which slipped into the country’s constitution 60 years ago.

The constitution was revised in 1958 when France switched from being a parliamentary to a presidential regime. Now a cross-party commission is in the process of updating it.

MPs from the right-leaning UDI-Agir group are irked by Article 16 of the current version, which covers emergency powers and accidentally uses the masculine version of the word “threatened” after a string of feminine nouns.

“When the institutions of the republic, the independence of the nation, the integrity of its territory or the execution of its international commitments are threatened…” it reads — using the French word “menaces” for threatened instead of the correct form “menacees”.

An official note on the Legifrance website, where French laws are published, gently points out the typo, but the UDI-Agir group want it fixed once and for all.

The commission declined to adopt the suggested amendment on Thursday, but “it’s a good suggestion,” said commission member Marc Fesneau, adding that lawmakers would look at the issue again during a sitting on July 10.

On Wednesday, MPs agreed to remove the word “race” from the constitution and to add a ban on gender discrimination as part of the rewrite.