Public Policy Dynamics France #2

by RPP colleagues

Health and Politics in France

Total COVID-19 cases:3,106,859
14-day total COVID-19 cases per 100,000:403.45
14-day change:+74.24
Total COVID-19 deaths:74,456
14-day rise:5,143
  • Regional and departmental elections will be postponed until June 2021 due to the ongoing public health crisis. This decision comes amidst a reshuffling of the French political scene, with traditional right and left-wing parties being pushed to the side-lines.
  • The Government’s reform on old age and autonomy has been postponed to “after the pandemic”, though its strategy for environmental and human health continues to be deployed according to plan.
  • The executive power has announced that a third lockdown will be introduced from the beginning of February. Covid-19 infection numbers remain high despite the 6pm curfew adopted 4 weeks ago.

Politics

  • The bill postponing the general renewal of departmental and regional councils was adopted by the Senate on 26 January and will be examined by the National Assembly on 9 February. Through the bill, the regional and departmental elections that were set to take place in March 2021 have been postponed until 20 June due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As the presidential election is set to take place in 2022, regional and departmental elections will not be postponed further, to avoid constitutional difficulties.
  • Electoral campaigns will also have to adapt to the sanitary situation. As such, the bill provides for a 20% increase in the campaign budget limit to allow campaigners to cover additional costs incurred through the organisation of remote political campaigning.
  • A Harris Interactive poll has revealed a close outcome if current French President Emmanuel Macron and the leader of the far-right party Rassemblement National(RN), Marine Le Pen, come face to face in the second round of the 2022 presidential elections. Le Pen, who also ran for the 2012 and 2017 presidential elections, would according to this poll get 48% of the votes, while Macron would win with 52%. This would be the greatest success the RN has had to date and would be a blow to the traditional right-wing party, Les Républicains.
  • Support for the socialist party (PS), which is solidly anchored in the French Republic’s history, has steadily declined since Emmanuel Macron’s party, La République en Marche, was created in 2016 and won the Presidential and legislative elections in 2017. On 26 January, PS leader Olivier Faure announced that eleven employees of the party (a quarter of all employees) are to be dismissed, as the party did not meet its budget objectives of 2020. This is a new blow to the party, which saw its budget reduced from €28 to €8 million after its heavy loss in the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.

 

Health

  • The bill for old age and autonomy (Projet de loi Grand Âge et Autonomie) announced by the Government in 2019 has once again been postponed until “after the sanitary crisis”, according to minister delegate for Autonomy Brigitte Bourguignon. This bill comes as part of a pledge Macron made during his presidential election campaign to tackle issues relating to old age care and autonomy loss, which were often left untouched in preceding major healthcare reforms. The promise has raised hopes amongst healthcare professionals and patient associations, who argue that the Covid-19 sanitary crisis and its impact on the elderly is proof that a reform is urgently needed.
  • The Ministry of Health has launched its second call for projects for the “Ecophyto 2020-2021” programme. The chosen projects will be financed by a total of €1.5 billion, and will have to contribute to the following actions: Reinforce at regional level the monitoring of environmental contamination and its impact on the population; identify, monitor and reduce the unintended effects of the use of phytopharmaceutical products on the environment; and accelerate the phase-out of substances such as glyphosate. These projects will contribute to the Government’s global One Health strategy which has gained importance in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

COVID-19

  • Infection numbers are still on the rise and have shown the limits of the current 6pm curfew strategy. As healthcare professionals warn against the risks a third lockdown could have on global mental health, the Government is reviewing different scenarios to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
  • Decision-makers must make do with the decline in public support following the slow start and technical difficulties of the vaccination campaign. Three scenarios are being discussed: a full lockdown with closed schools; a lockdown with schools remaining open; or a lockdown only on weekends, with a 6pm curfew during the week. President Macron will announce the Government’s decision on 1 February, after more than a week’s speculation coming from the press.

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