Are the French about to lose a public holiday to finance ‘yellow vest’ reforms?

President Emmanuel Macron is set to announce his long-awaited response to almost half a year of “yellow vest” street protests... but how will he finance them? Could the French be about to lose a public holiday?

Are the French about to lose a public holiday to finance 'yellow vest' reforms?
Workers at a Peugeot factory in Mulhouse. Photo: AFP

The president spoke of the need to make the French “work more” in a speech he was due to make a week ago but which he postponed because of the fire at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

He vowed to lower taxes for the working and middle classes in a measure he said he would pay for by cracking down on tax evasion, and promised a review in 2020 of his highly unpopular decision to cut a “fortune solidarity tax” on high earners.

It is not clear if he will stick to the original script of the speech when he finally outlines his reforms in a press conference due to be held on Thursday.


Macron to (finally) reveal his reforms for France in crunch announcementPhoto: AFP

But it is highly likely that he will keep the tax cuts component, and this has sparked much speculation as to where he will get the money from to finance them.

One of the options is to make the French work a day extra a year by scrapping one of the country’s 11 official public holidays.

May 8th, the national holiday which marks the end of World War II in Europe, is the most likely to be sacrificed, according to an unnamed senior member of the parliamentary finance commission cited by Le Parisien newspaper.

The measure would be highly unpopular, with 54 percent of those interviewed for an IFOP poll published by the Journal du Dimanche saying they were against the plan, which would bring as much as three billion extra euros into state coffers.

France currently has 11 public holidays a year, with Britain in comparison having just eight.

Other options reportedly being considered by the government to finance its reforms include making people take their retirement later than at the statutory 62 years of age, or abandoning the 35-working week and making people work 39 hours a week.

But these options would also likely enrage many French, with one union already talking about strikes if they were to be passed.

The stakes are high for Macron, whose popularity ratings are stuck around 30 percent, a far cry from the heady days after the centrist president's inauguration almost two years ago when his approval rating was over 60 percent.

He already has his eye on 2022 presidential elections, all too aware that his two predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande only lasted for one term and failed to implement lasting change.

Member comments

  1. In the UK we have 8 bank holidays for England & Wales, but for Scotland there are 9 and for NI there are 10 days. The good thing being that for any holiday that falls on the weekend, the next working day is provided as a substitute holiday. In France (for 11 bank holidays days except for Alsace and Moselle), it does not work like that and for 2020 one ends up losing 2 bank holidays as they fall on a weekend. So if the same method is employed in France, then sacrificing one bank holiday might make sense for the populace. After all presently I believe, one leave day is annually contributed by the employees in companies in France to compensate for the Pentecost Monday holiday.

  2. This is a great idea!

    It will surely lead to Macron being ousted even sooner. LOL, what a tone-deaf politician…. This’ll go over like a pregnant pole vaulter.

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Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

French president Emmanuel Macron will make a live TV broadcast to the nation about the war in Ukraine.

Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

Macron will be on TV on Wednesday at 8pm, the Elysée confirmed earlier on Wednesday.

Macron also tweeted the announcement, saying that his speech will be on the subject of the war in Ukraine.

His office added that the president’s speech “will not touch on other matters” – Macron has only until Friday to confirm whether or not he is running for re-election.

It is widely considered to be extremely unlikely that he would not stand in the April elections, but all candidates have until Friday, March 4th, to make their declaration.

Macron’s team had previously announced a rally in Marseille on Saturday, March 5th, which was expected to be the first official campaign event, but on Tuesday this was cancelled because of the ongoing international crisis.

Macron was at the forefront of international efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and since Russia invaded Ukraine he has remained in close contact with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and has also spoken – at the request of Zelensky – to Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

The Local will be following Macron’s speech live from 8pm HERE.