Macron pushes through his anti-inflation package with Le Pen's vote

France, according to the 1958 Constitution conceived by General De Gaulle, has a very presidential political system.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
22 July 2022 Friday 18:49
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Macron pushes through his anti-inflation package with Le Pen's vote

France, according to the 1958 Constitution conceived by General De Gaulle, has a very presidential political system. But the results of the latest legislative elections have given a major role to the highly fractured Parliament, which nevertheless showed yesterday a surprising ability to build a majority among disparate partners.

The bill to protect purchasing power, with a package of measures to counteract inflation, was approved in first reading, after a marathon session that ended almost at six in the morning, thanks to the vote of the traditional right (The Republicans , LR), of the National Regrouping (RN, extreme right) and of a handful of autonomist deputies and of the overseas territories. All of them joined the centrist groups that support President Emmanuel Macron and his government.

The legislative initiative went ahead by a very comfortable margin: 341 votes in favor, 116 against and 21 abstentions. The majority of deputies from La Francia Insumisa (LFI, radical left) and the environmentalists opposed it. The bulk of the Socialists abstained.

The motley coalition built, not without strong tensions and after many amendments, to defend the purchasing power of the French heralds other circumstantial alliances in the future. While the radical left shows little inclination to consensus and wants to embody a tough opposition, the extreme right of Marine Le Pen -with 89 deputies- strives to appear responsible and institutional, convinced that it is the great opportunity to present itself to the country as a normal party and capable of governing.

The anti-inflation package was a very strong social demand and an electoral promise. The French, more than other peoples, always expect the state to play a protective role, even if the cost is high and public finances are unbalanced. The bill, which in principle should be ratified by the Senate with minor modifications, includes a 4% increase in pensions and the main social subsidies, as well as a 3.5% cap on rent increases during one year.

To improve the income of employees, companies are authorized to pay a premium of 3,000 euros –and even double it in some cases–, exempt from taxes and social contributions. It is a way of curbing a very strong rise in wages, which would have an inflationary effect and damage the competitiveness of French companies.

In addition to the bill on purchasing power, a rectification of the 2022 budget is being processed to finance other measures such as the gasoline and diesel subsidy. There may also be a consensus between parties that are ideologically very distant. For the left, especially LFI, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the measures fall short. They would like a very strong increase in the minimum wage and a very rigid price block for energy products and basic necessities. The Government considers that this would be counterproductive because it would trigger inflation, distort the market and could lead to shortages in some sectors.

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