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POLITICS

LATEST: The 2022 French presidential election calendar

When France heads to the polls in April 2022 to pick a new president, it will be the culmination of a long and complicated process which is already underway. These are the key dates of the coming months.

LATEST: The 2022 French presidential election calendar
Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

First of all, the different political parties need to pick their candidate. Or at least decide how they’re going to pick their candidate.

Primaries

They were a key feature of the 2017 presidential election.

Inspired by the American model, the traditional centre-left and centre-right parties Parti Socialiste (PS) and Les Républicains (LR) as well as the Greens all selected their candidate following primary elections, which included televised debates.

The failure of any of those candidates to make it to the 2017 presidential run-off put plenty of people off that idea.

This time PS and LR opted for a vote open only to party members while the Greens held a full primary.

READ ALSO Who’s who in the crowded field vying to unseat Macron in French presidential election

Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the far-left La France Insoumise have already announced their intention to run and leftist Arnaud Montebourg is also running with the backing of a new movement named l’Engagement.

Incumbent Emmanuel Macron has not yet declared whether he will run, but it is widely expected that he will. 

Declaring candidates

Anybody can run for President in France, you just need to be a French citizen, at least 18 years old and eligible to vote.

However there is one major hurdle to clear before you can be added to the official list of candidates: you need to be nominated by at least 500 elected officials from 30 départements or overseas territories, without more than 10 percent coming from one département or overseas territory. These could be MPs, MEPs, mayors, regional councillors, or any other elected official. 

OPINION French village mayors could sink Zemmour’s presidential bid

Right now, candidates are working on assumptions based on promises from these elected officials. The race to officialise presidential candidates’ ‘parrainage’ doesn’t formally begin until January 30th

The period in which candidates can gather nominations will begin at least 10 weeks before the first round of the presidential election in April 2022, and will end six weeks before the election, after which point it will be impossible to launch a campaign. The final deadline for candidates, with the appropriate number of sponsors, to be added to the official list is therefore March 4th.

READ ALSO OPINION: French village mayors could sink Zemmour’s presidential bid

The list of candidates will be officially published on March 8th.

The campaign begins

Although in reality most candidates are already in full campaigning mode, campaigning officially begins six weeks before the vote.

But in terms of TV and radio appearance, the rhythm of the campaign follows rules set by the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) media regulator, which delineates three separate periods to the campaign with different rules on who can be given airtime.

In the first period, the time TV and radio programmes spent talking to, or about, candidates or their backers was monitored according to an equity principle – meaning the time allotted to each candidate was based on their popularity and importance in the election. This year, that period began on January 1st.

READ ALSO What are the rules for French presidential candidates appearing on TV?

Two weeks before the vote, the principle of equity was replaced by equality, meaning all candidates must be granted the same airtime, regardless of their chances of winning. Equal airtime rules this year start on March 28th.

From a financial point of view the campaign has already begun: campaign spending is counted from July 1st 2021, so candidates must already begin combing through their expenses and figuring out which are linked to the campaign, if they don’t want to end up like Nicolas Sarkozy.

Decision time

The most important dates to remember are April 10th and April 24th. 

All candidates stand in the first round of voting, and then the two with the highest score go through the the second round two weeks later. By tradition, polling day is always a Sunday but because of the time difference, citizens in certain overseas territories will vote on the Saturday.

Not everybody is happy about the dates. Marine Le Pen has complained that the first round falls during the school holidays in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Hauts-de-France regions, where her party would expect to do well, and that all schools will be on holiday for the second round.

The investiture of the new president can take place any time between the election and the end of the current head of state’s mandate, on May 13th. Recent presidents have all taken office after between one and two weeks. If Macron manages to win a second term, he will continue his mandate.

Legislative elections

But voting doesn’t end once the occupant of the Elysée is decided.

Ever since the length of a presidential term was reduced from seven years to five years in 2000, meaning it was the same length as mandates for MPs in the Assemblée Nationale, presidential and legislative elections are always held the same year.

This time, the French will vote for their MPs (députés) two months after choosing the President. The first round of voting will take place on June 12th, with the second round a week later on June 19th.

Campaign accounts

Finally – there’s a bit of financial tidying up. Campaign accounts must be submitted to the Conseil constitutionnel by June 24th, 2022. It has six months to validate them and determine any sums to be reimbursed to the candidates according to their results in the ballot. The reimbursement amounts to 47.5 percent of the expenditure ceiling for those who obtained more than 5% of the votes cast in the first round, and 4.75 percent for the others.

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MONEY

Revealed: What will you receive from France’s €65bn cost-of-living aid package?

The French parliament has finally passed a massive €65 billion package of measures aimed at helping French residents with the spiralling cost of living. Here's a rundown of the help on offer, who it's available to and when it comes into effect.

Revealed: What will you receive from France's €65bn cost-of-living aid package?

After three weeks of sometimes heated debate, France’s parliament has adopted its multi-part purchasing power package to help mitigate rising cost of living and inflation.

In total, parliament approved a budget of nearly €65 billion for the whole package. 

It includes a raft of measures including price shields, tax rebates and grants. Here’s what is included and who will benefit.

Electricity and gas The government has voted to extend the tariff shield on gas and electricity prices until the end of the year: this means that gas prices will continue to remain frozen and that price hikes for electricity prices will be capped at four percent. 

For who: This applies to everyone who has a gas or electricity account in France.

When: The price freeze is already in effect and will continue until at least December 31st.

Fuel subsidy – The government’s fuel rebate (on petrol/gasoline and diesel) will be increased from €0.18 per litre to €0.30 in September and October, and then in November and December it will fall to €0.10. 

For who: All drivers (including tourists) – this is applied automatically at all fuel stations in France

When: The €0.18 per litre rebate is already in place and remains until August 31st, and rises to €0.30 on September 1st.

Pensions – The index point for pensions will be raised by four percent.

Who: This covers anyone who receives a French pension – roughly 14 million people – it does not affect anyone who gets a pension from another country.

When: From September 9th. 

Abolishing the TV licence fee – The annual TV licence raised €3.7 billion a year for public broadcasting, with the majority having gone toward France Télévisions, but has now been scrapped. It was €138 per household. 

For who: Any household with a television. This equates to about 23 million households in France who will no longer have to pay this yearly tax.

When: The was due to be levied on November 15th, but this year no bills will be sent out.

Tripling the Macron bonus – The maximum annual bonus – which is exempt from income and social security taxes – will be tripled.

It is a one time, tax-free payout that can be given to workers by their employers – if they chose to. Companies will now be able to pay up to €3,000 to their employees (and up to €6,000 for those with a profit-sharing scheme).

Who: This pertains to salariés (employees) whose businesses choose to offer this bonus.

When: The bonus can be paid between August 1st and December 31st.

Rent cap – Rent increases will be limited to 3.5 percent per year for existing tenants. Some cities already have in place their own rent control schemes, but the 3.5 percent cap is nationwide.

Who – This affects anyone who already has a tenancy agreement for a property in France (and also affects all landlords who are banned from making big rent hikes).

When – The 3.5 percent cap concerns annual rent increases that fall between July 2022 and June 2023.

Housing allowance – Those who benefit from personalised assistance for housing (APL) will see that increased by 3.5 percent.

Who: This pertains to those who qualify for governmental financial assistance with rent. Typically, this means low-income households. If you are already on APL – around 3.5 million people – the increase will be automatic, if you think you might qualify, apply through your local CAF.

When: The increase comes in your next payment, with the increased rate backdated to July 1st 2022.

Social benefits – The RSA top-up benefit will be increased by four percent (local authorities, who deal with RSA, will receive €600 million to help them finance and allocate this increase). Additionally, those who benefit from the ‘prime d’activité‘ (activity bonus) will see that value raised by four percent as well.

Who: Unemployed people below the age of 25 can qualify for RSA – this pertains to about 1.9 million people in France. The activity bonus is available to low-income workers – about 4.3 million people.

When: Catch-up payments will be in place from August 18th to September 5th. On September 5th, the updated payment will begin to be paid out.

Student grants – An increase of 4 percent for student grants (bourses) for higher education

Who: Students under the age of 28 who qualify for financial assistance in the form of grants. These students must qualify as ‘financially precarious’ for the school year of 2022-2023.

When: September 2022

Back-to-school grants – Families who meet certain income requirements are eligible for an allowance to help cover back-to-school costs – that grant will increase by four percent this year. There will also be an extra €100 subsidy for eligible families (with an additional €50 per child) paid “to those who need it most” according to Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in an interview with RTL. 

Who: Low-income families with children. You can test your family’s eligibility on the website www.service-public.fr. This aid will impact 10.8 million households.

When: The one time payment will be paid at the start of the school-year in September.

The option to convert overtime days into extra cash – This is encompassed in two measures: increasing the ceiling of tax exempt overtime hours to €7,500 and opening the possibility for companies to buy back RTT days from their employees.

Eligible employees covered by the 35-hour week agreement accrue time in lieu if they work overtime, known as RTT days. Currently this time is taken as extra vacation days, but now employees will have the option to forgo the time off and instead be paid extra.

Who: For the buying back of RTT days, this applies to employees (salariés) who have an RTT agreement with their company.

For the increased cap on non-taxed overtime work, this applies to a range of employees, such as those who have 35-hour per week contracts and have their employer request that they work overtime or those who work beyond their part-time contract amount. You can learn more about whether you have the ability to declare overtime hours HERE

When: The RTT days buyout will run from between January 1st, 2022 to December 31st, 2025. For employees eligible for tax-free overtime compensation, the ceiling of €7,500 will only be in place for the year 2022.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why is France’s 35-hour week such a sacred cow?

Pay rise for public sector workers – public sector pay will get a four percent rise in the index.

Who: Anyone employed in France as a fonctionnaire (eg civil servants, teachers, librarians).

When: This will be retroactive to July 1st

Assistance for some self-employed workers – A reduction in health and maternity insurance contributions will be introduced for low-earning self-employed workers. “Microentrepreneurs” will also benefit from a reduction in their flat-rate contributions.

Who: Self-employed workers whose monthly income does not exceed 1.6 times the minimum wage and who are registered as ‘microentrepeneurs’

When: TBC

The biometric carte vitale –  The Senate introduced this into the purchasing power package, but it is not a benefit. It will involve the implementation of a biometric carte vitale health card to “fight against social fraud” by adding an electronic chip with biometric data on it to health insurance cards. You can read more HERE.

Who: Everyone who is registered in the French health system and has a carte vitale (about 60 million people)

When: Lawmakers will begin plans to implement the plans in Autumn 2022, but it’s not clearly exactly what form the rollout will take.

How much will these measures impact inflation?

Some measures will likely be more effective than others. For instance, the extension of the tariff shield and increase of the fuel rebate in the early fall is largely to thank for France’s inflation level being two points lower than the European average, according to INSEE.

On the other hand, the tripling of the ceiling for the (optional) Macron bonus will likely not make a large difference. This is because it will likely not be widely taken advantage of, as last year only 4 million French people received the optional bonus, with the approximate average of the bonus having been only €500.

The pension changes will impact about 14.8 million people in France. However, according to economist Christopher Dembik, the revalorsation values are based on actual inflation and not on inflation expectations. “These revaluation measures will be too weak by the time they will be implemented,” Dembik said to French daily Le Parisien.

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