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'Referendums and an end to school closures': Macron's plans for France leaked to media

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'Referendums and an end to school closures': Macron's plans for France leaked to media
Will the measures quell yellow vest anger? Photo: AFP
19:31 CEST+02:00
President Emmanuel Macron had been due to announce a raft of measures on Monday aimed at quelling months of unrest and resentment towards his leadership. While the Notre-Dame fire forced him to postpone, his speech was leaked to the press. Here's a look at his main measures.

Macron on Monday night cancelled a speech expected to outline key measures in response to months of anti-governments protests, after the blaze erupted.

Macron will address the nation but he is expected to talk mainly about the Notre-Dame fire.

However a draft copy of his planned speech was leaked to the press showing some of the changes he intends to make to improve life for French people, particularly in rural areas as well as ease the opposition to his presidency.

People on the 'yellow vest' protests have been complaining that it is impossible for ordinary people to live in France, with high taxes and a high cost of living.

Macron promised to listen to them, and has spent weeks touring the country hosting a series of 'town hall' style debates.

The measures, in the draft speech are seen as his attempt to address their grievances and halt the weeks of often violent protests that have gripped the country.

These are some of the main changes he plans to make, according to the leaked document.

Emmanuel Macron has laid out his ideas. Photo: AFP

Income tax cuts

The heavy burden of tax in France has been the number one complaint from 'yellow vests' and France does have one of the highest tax rates in the world.

Macron proposes a tax cut for the middle classes, which may not entirely defuse anger.

He intends to fund this giveaway of the middle classes by correcting 'certain tax niches'.

However he doesn't plan to reintroduce the wealth tax, one of the key demands of many yellow vest protesters. The wealth tax (ISF) which is now only levied on property riches rather than money will be evaluated however and may be changed.

End of year bonuses

Macron announced an end of year bonus for low paid workers before Christmas as part of his raft of measures to quell the violence. According to the leaked speech the president wants to make them a permanent fixture.

Pensions boost

Pensioners have also been particularly vocal, especially over fears of a raise in the pension age. Macron has already ruled out raising the pension age from its current level of 62. The leaked paper suggests reindexing pensions of less than €2,000.

"I know all the misunderstandings there have been on the subject of pensions in these two years. I regret that. I want consideration for retirees to translate into trust and clear rules. Pensions of less than €2,000 will be reindexed on inflation as of January 1," the president will say.

No more school and hospital closures by 2022

He pledged to end closure of local facilities, unless the local mayors suggest it. He was acting on the feeling in many rural communities that they are being abandoned and are slowly losing all local services.

He added that he wanted "more civil servants on the ground, with more responsibilities", "and fewer civil servants in Paris to write standards or create rules".

More referendums

Not put off by Britain's example, Macron says he is favour of holding more votes on certain local issues, as called for by 'yellow vest' protesters who said that the national government is too remote from the people and their concerns.

However, the draft speech warned that implementing this could be complicated.

The French constitution already allows for shared referendum initiatives (RIP) if 185 lawmakers back it as well as 10 percent of France's elected officials. Macron is keen to encourage the use of these initiatives that are not often put into action.

Less MPs more PR

Macron has vowed to push ahead with his election promise to cut the number of MPs and increase the proportion of proportional representation in elections.

Abolition of the elite École Nationale d'Administration

Widely seen as a breeding ground for the elite, the ENA is the training system for top French civil servants and politicians. Macron's paper says that he is in favour of making the selection process more democratic.

The leaked paper has him as saying he wants to give "all our young people their opportunities based solely on their merit and not on their social or family origin."

There was no official comment from the Elysées Palace on the leaked document, and whether these will prove enough to quell the anger that has swept through France remains to be seen.

Macron's TV address at 8pm should reveal more about these measures.




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