After almost six months of often violent demonstrations, the 41-year-old president told reporters gathered in a gilded hall at the Elysee Palace that he would set in motion a “new act” for the French Republic with a “project of resistance and ambition.” While pledging not to go back on pro-business overhauls, Macron said he would do more to make his agenda more human and do a better job of protecting the nation’s citizens from globalization.
“I have felt in my bones what French people are going through and I want to provide an answer,’’ Macron said. “The art of being French is being rooted and universal, attached to history and origins but embracing the future.”
The announcements ranged from promises to revamp the mechanics of the French state, to reforms of education, pensions and taxation. Many of the overhauls are already in motion, but did Macron indicate preferences for key parameters. For example, income tax cuts should total around 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion), he said, and French people should be encouraged to work longer with incentives to retire later.
Macron is sticking to his guns on spending cuts and reforms he has already put in place like changes to labor laws, saying his agenda isn’t the reason that French people are protesting The president is leaving intact key pillars of the country’s economic model like the 35-hour work-week and a minimum retirement age of 62 The tax announcements signal a further shift in favor of consumers over businesses as Macron says closing tax breaks for companies will help offset income tax cuts for households There’s also a shift in favor of retired people, who shouldered the burden of tax increases and spending cuts in the first two years of Macron’s presidency The proposed changes to France’s democracy are intended to symbolize a transfer of power away from Paris and perceived elites Macron may struggle to sell his oft-repeated mantra that the French people must work more The president dodges the question of whether he will run for re-election in 2022, saying he “furiously and passionately” focused on making his first time a success
The package is a pivotal moment in the presidency of Macron, who came to power nearly two years ago promising deep reforms to jolt France’s economy and labor market. But those plans have collided with the protests of the Yellow Vest movement, which began with opposition to gasoline taxes before morphing into a general unrest over purchasing power and Macron’s governing style.
His announcements Thursday follow a 10-week national debate devised to assuage the grassroots discontent and come just a month ahead of EU elections that are seen as a referendum on his policies. The president has taken weeks to fine-tune his response as he seeks to safeguard the business-friendly reforms he pushed through at the start of his term while addressing a common perception that French society is becoming less equal.
In other news...
South Africa is in a very real battle. A political fight where terms such as truth and democracy can seem more of a suggestion as opposed to a necessity.
On one side of the battle are those openly willing to undermine the sovereignty of a democratic society, completely disregarding the weight and power of the oaths declared when they took office. If their mission was to decrease society’s trust in government - mission accomplished.
And on the other side are those who believe in the ethos of a country whose constitution was once declared the most progressive in the world. The hope that truth, justice and accountability in politics, business and society is not simply fairy tale dust sprinkled in great electoral speeches; but rather a cause that needs to be intentionally acted upon every day.
However, it would be an offensive oversight not to acknowledge that right there on the front lines, alongside whistleblowers and civil society, stand the journalists. Armed with only their determination to inform society and defend the truth, caught in the crossfire of shots fired from both sides.
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"Everything is flux" ~ Heraclitus