Public Policy Dynamics France #6

by RPP colleagues

Health and Politics in France

Total COVID-19 cases:4,282,603
14-day total COVID-19 cases per 100,000:562.1
14-day change:+130.1
Total COVID-19 deaths:92,305
14-day rise:2,714
  • Xavier Bertrand has announced his candidature for the next presidential election in 2022. Before this election, regional elections are set to take place, but they may be postponed in light of the current sanitary crisis.
  • While the social security deficit is not as bad as expected, the Government keeps postponing the much awaited reform on old age and autonomy. Promised in 2018, the bill is now set to be tabled “after the pandemic”.
  • The general public health situation continues to deteriorate, with two regions newly put under lockdown for four weeks. The Government has been criticised for the logistics of this decision.

Politics

  • Xavier Bertrand announced his candidacy for the next presidential election set to take place in 2022. Formerly a member of the Les Républicains party, he will campaign as an independent candidate. Mr. Bertrand, who still benefits from many close ties to the conservative party, has also detailed some of the central themes of his political programme, first of which will be to reinforce safety and security. The latest candidate has also insisted that he wishes to work towards more “territoriality”, as opposed to the Paris-centralised measures which shaped initial responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and led to nation-wide criticism.
  • New uncertainties have appeared around the upcoming regional elections, set to take place in June 2021. In light of the current sanitary situation, some have called for the postponement of the elections. However, two early partial legislative elections are set to take place – and were confirmed by the Government – on 4 and 11 April in Paris and the Hauts-de-France region. The Government consulted with the candidates to decide whether the election should take place on the announced dates but has warned that a last minute postponement may be possible. 

 

Health

  • The Social Security deficit for 2020 is much smaller than expected, according to the Minister of Action and Public Accounts and the Minister of Health. The two ministers gave an interview to the newspaper Les Echos, in which they explain that while the epidemic has burdened the Social Security accounts in 2020, revenues have been better than expected at the end of the year. Instead of plunging to €49 billion, the balance of the general scheme and the old age solidarity fund should be stopped at €38.9 billion.
  • The bill on old age and autonomy, promised by Emmanuel Macron since 2018 and several times postponed since then, is still eagerly awaited by members of parliament, patients’ associations and healthcare personnel representatives. Members of the Ministry of Health have been questioned several times by members of parliament on the date on which the bill will be published, to which they answered that the bill remains one of the Government’s priorities but will be tackled after the sanitary crisis. With the next presidential election taking place in one year, MPs have expressed concerns on the Government’s capacity to accomplish this.

 

Covid-19

  • The general public health situation continues to deteriorate. Two of the thirteen French regions – Île-de-France and Hauts-de-France - have been put under lockdown (the third one since the start of the pandemic). The Government has been highly criticised on the practical details elaborated to enforce these new lockdowns – specifically the reintroduction of the use of forms that had to be filled out to justify being outside of the home. The use of these forms was then relaxed by the Government 24 hours later. The executive power wishes to talk about new braking measures against the virus instead of “lockdowns” so as to maintain its so called “third line” to fight against the pandemic.
  • The executive power is counting on the acceleration of the vaccination campaign to avoid an escalation in partial or national lockdowns. Following the suspension and reauthorisation of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Prime Minister Jean Castex was vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine in an aim to increase public confidence in its quality.

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