Macron's consultation will mean little until his government take real action to change the lives of the worst-offby Mathilde Brard / February 1, 2019 / Leave a comment
In mid-January, Emmanuel Macron launched a national debate in France in response to the gilets jaunes, or yellow vest, protests. The consultation, which lasts until March 15, is intended to be open to everyone in France. People are invited to participate in different ways: they can express their views in “registers of grievances” available in townhalls and online; they can also organise debates themselves with the help of “territorial kits” prepared by the government, which include information about culture, health, accommodation employment and transport of one’s region; finally, the president and other members of the government are going around the country or on TV to meet and debate with local representatives and citizens.
In his letter that introduced the debate, Macron defined the limits of the debate with a list of questions that highly reflects his own economic and social policies. He has also made it clear that the government is not willing to question the measures that were previously adopted.
Since the start of his presidency, the French president has often been described as the ‘president of the Rich’ due to his reforms such as the suppression of the ISF (the solidarity tax on wealth), the introduction of a flat tax as well as cuts in housing benefits. French economist Thomas Piketty has argued that these policies reflect a “direction of fiscal dumping in favour of the richest and most mobile,” reflective of Macron’s “lack of understanding of the inegalitarian challenges posed by globalisation.”
Despite the advantages that arose from the ‘urgent decisions’ taken by the government following four weeks of protests in Paris and around the country, a study published by the Institut des Politiques Publiques of Paris (Public Policy Institute) also demonstrates this lack of understanding. The study indicates that although the purchasing power of the poorest 20 per cent of households should improve thanks to the government’s emergency measures, it also reveals that it is impacting the public deficit. This deficit will likely be balanced through more cuts in public services like education, defence and security, health, and public broadcasting.
This is clearly reaffirmed in Macron’s letter, in which he gives the people the choice between less taxes or less spending on public services—without offering the option to increase the taxes of the most…