GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 801, 29 January 2024

Macron pledges for a stronger and fairer France in a press conference: Three takeaways
Padmashree Anandhan

In Focus
Macron pledges for a stronger and fairer France in a press conference: Three takeaways
By Padmashree Anandhan

On 16 January, in a press conference held after five years Emmanuel Macron, France’s President laid out his upcoming presidential agenda focus on “law and order, migration, and education.” The overall pledges made during his speech aimed for a “stronger France,” starting with reforms on economic bill and tax cut to middle class. As per the report in Euronews the speech was observed as an effort to showcase his leadership against the rising far-right, National Rally challenge in the European elections. It was also a sign to dissipate the domestic anger which brewed due to laws over pension and immigration.

Three takeaways
First, increased pressure within France and the parliament. Swaying into the second term of Presidential elections with less margin of difference, the slow rise of National Rally party adds pressure on La République en Marche with European elections scheduled in June. Macron, who is well known for addresses and speeches in social media and especially outside France faces a complex situation in the parliament. Without majority in the parliament, fulfilling the agenda or passing of the policies such as the pension reform has been possible only by using special constitutional powers. The domestic protests over the pension reform, and the farmers protests has made a compelling domestic scenario for Macron.

Second, an inward-looking agenda. The majority of the announced reforms focused on education, “civic rearmament” and addressing radicalism. Macron announced an experiment across 100 institutions with an aim to mandate school uniforms by 2026 across, learning of France’s national anthem and insisted on having drama courses at the primary school level. Apart from the education, as part of the civic education, the number of hours of screen time was also part of Macron’s reforms aimed to shape future of the societies. At the international, support to Ukraine remained a key argument, better control over France’s borders, increasing of police deployment to address uncivilised behaviour and countering drugs and radical Islam was given the spotlight. On the ongoing war in Middle-East, Macron showcased the government’s decision to not join the joint strike with the UK and the US in the Red Sea. Thereby indicating the larger motive of France to “avoid escalation.”

Third, domestic economic measures under focus. European economies reeling under pressure from the pandemic and fallouts of the war in Ukraine, protests have sparked across Poland, Romania and Germany calling for tax cuts. The latest set of reforms set out by Macron assures two billion tax cuts for the middle-class population in 2025. He also announced a revamp to the existing maternity and paternity leaves which will ensure 67 per cent of salaries to both with an aim to control the declining birth rate. Employment rate was also included part of the reform when France aims to reduce unemployment rate to five per cent or below through tighter rules of withdrawing benefits to those who decline twice when offered by the bureau.

Macron to hold rare press conference in prime time,” Le Monde, 16 January 2024
Macron outlines term's next reforms,” Le Monde, 16 January 2024
Ludovic FAU, “
Heloise Urvoy, “
Macron speech: What economic changes should French people expect?,” Euronews, 17 January 2024

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