Public Policy Dynamics France #7

by RPP colleagues

Health and Politics in France

Total COVID-19 cases:4,939,258
14-day total COVID-19 cases per 100,000:703.9
14-day change:+141.8
Total COVID-19 deaths:97,722
14-day rise:5,417
  • As the debate over the regional elections continues, statements and speculation around the 2022 presidential elections are increasing. Former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has released a book and remains vague about his ambitions, while far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has called for a government of national unity.
  • A bill “giving and guaranteeing the right to a free and chosen end of life” was examined in the National Assembly on 8 April. This bill is creating a great political stir, as its passage through the National Assembly has been a highly awaited debate in France.
  • A third national lockdown was declared on 1 April, for a minimum of 4 weeks. The Government counts on the speed up of the vaccination effort to get out of the third wave of the epidemic.

Politics

  • As France enters its third national lockdown, discussions on the organisation of the regional and departmental elections in June have reopened. The Covid-19 Scientific Board delivered its opinion on the matter, in which its members refused to give a decision and referred the decision to the executive. For the time being, the executive power favours holding the elections. All the political forces, except the MoDem, are also in favour of maintaining them, provided a very strict health framework is in place. MPs will debate the issue on 14 April, followed by a vote, to decide whether they should take place or be postponed.
  • The continuation or postponement of these elections will also play a role in the presidential elections of 2022. The President of the Hauts-de-France region Xavier Bertrand (Les Républicains, right-wing) has declared himself a presidential candidate (as an independent) but wants to make his participation conditional on his re-election as head of the region. As for future candidates, the possible candidacy of Edouard Phillipe, former prime minister, raises many questions. Although he has always said he is loyal to the President of the Republic, he also considers himself "completely" free. He remains very vague about his potential candidacy for the 2022 presidential elections. If he is to be a candidate, it could jeopardise a potential re-election of Emmanuel Macron. At the same time, Marine Le Pen, who according to the polls would reach the second ballot, calls for a "time of unity" and a "government of national unity". 

 

Health

  • A bill “giving and guaranteeing the right to a free and chosen end of life” was examined in the National Assembly on 8 April. This bill is creating a great political stir, as it was a highly anticipated and already hotly debated topic in France. The bill, tabled by members of the minority, did not satisfy the right-wing deputies, for whom the debate on the end of life could not be done in a few hours. However, the bill did not pass as more than 3,000 amendments have been tabled, including 2,300 from five MPs of the Les Républicains group.
  • The Government is embarrassed by this law, which it did not plan to support. The evolution of the right to the end of life did not appear in Macron's proposed policy programme, and the executive does not believe it has a mandate to introduce it now. However, the text is supported by many MPs belonging to the presidential majority. The Government therefore plans to give a "wisdom opinion", which means that it will defer to the deputies on whether to adopt the text.
  • To respond to concerns about the end of life, Olivier Véran, the health minister, announced in March the launch of a new national plan for the "development of palliative care and support at the end of life" aimed at making the Claeys-Léonetti law, the current law on this subject, better known and applied.

 

Covid-19

  • A third national lockdown has been declared on 1 April – for a minimum of 4 weeks – starting on 6 April. This national lockdown, which is less strict than previous ones, prevents interdepartmental travel except for compelling reasons. Schools have been closed for a two-week vacation, but classes will resume starting the week of 26 April, without this reopening being conditioned by health indicators.
  • The Government is counting on vaccination to get out of the crisis, as announced by President Macron during his televised address on 1 April, and a new vaccination schedule has been announced. France has passed the 10 million mark for the first injections of the vaccine and expects to reach 30 million first doses by mid-June. Vaccination against Covid-19will be open to people aged 60 and over from 16 April. Then, from 15 May to those age 50-60 and finally, from mid-June to those age less than 50 years. Even with this revised schedule, many criticisms continue to be directed at the Government. Debates around the vaccination of teachers are at their strongest, while certain at-risk populations, such as people with obesity, are still excluded under certain conditions in the predominantly age-stratified programme.

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