Public Policy Dynamics France #9
Health and Politics in France
|Total COVID-19 cases:||5,706,378|
|14-day total COVID-19 cases per 100,000:||538.8|
|14-day change:||- 155|
|Total COVID-19 deaths:||105,660|
- As the regional and departmental elections draw nearer, candidates are declaring themselves and fresh alliances are being formed. Traditional parties, notably the right-wing Les Républicains, are at the heart of the debate as many party figures continue to create new alliances or leave the party.
- In the context of the health crisis, in which the state of mental and psychological health of the French is deteriorating, France has reaffirmed its commitment to the psychological health of children and adolescents. The Ministry of Solidarities and Health is strengthening its strategy for family carers in the perspective of the end of the health crisis.
- Vaccination is speeding up in France, and the lockdown exit calendar has finally been unveiled. Adults will be able to benefit from leftover doses from 12 May, while their vaccination will officially be possible from 15 June. France is counting on this acceleration of vaccination to get out of restrictive measures by 30 June.
The regional and departmental elections, that will take place across the last two weekends of June, are monopolising political attention. Emmanuel Macron's presidential majority (LRM), which has few ties to the territories, is trying to form alliances with more traditional parties with regional roots. This is for example the case in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur (PACA) region with the right-wing candidate, Renaud Muselier (Les Républicains). The presidential party’s candidate, Sophie Cluzel, was supposed to be integrated into the list of Les Républicains. This initiative has provoked strong reactions within the right, calling into question the nomination of Renaud Muselier, who is nonetheless ultimately the Les Républicains candidate. However, Sophie Cluzel declared on 7 May that she will run her own list to the elections, without any kind of alliance.
This episode reopened rifts in the Les Républicains group. Two members of the party, Hubert Falco, the mayor of Toulon, and Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, have left the party. The two southern town councillors had been at the heart of a strong polemical attack on the right for several days. Members of their political family accused them of being at the origin of the attempted alliance between the LR lists of Renaud Muselier, candidate for his own re-election and La République en Marche.
The strategy of the presidential party, called the "cuckoo strategy" (in reference to the bird that lays its eggs in the nest of others), is strongly questioned. Some accuse Emmanuel Macron of wanting to "dynamite the right" for the presidential elections. The party had already used this strategy in the municipal elections, and seems to be doing so again for the upcoming elections, trying to form alliances as soon as possible.
In the context of the health crisis where the state of mental and psychological health of the French is deteriorating, the Government has committed to the psychological health of children and adolescents, with an emergency psychological package set up at the beginning of May. The aim of this scheme, which will be operational at the end of May, is to pay for up to 10 sessions with psychologists in the city for children aged 3 to 17 suffering from mild to moderate psychological disorders. Deployed throughout the country, it will provide 100% coverage of 10 psychological support sessions, without advance payment. This is a direct response to the suffering generated by the health crisis among children and adolescents.
The Ministry of Solidarity and Health has also given an update on its strategy for family carers. The second monitoring committee of the 2020-2022 strategy to mobilise and support family carers was held on 5 May to assess the progress and implementation of this strategy with the actors and associations involved. For the Government, it is essential to recognise and facilitate the major role of family carers, who are on the front line in caring for fragile citizens, and the Government has accordingly made this a priority for overcoming the crisis. The end of the health crisis has prompted the Government to consider new measures to facilitate the work of carers. Ministers have thus announced the opening of work on the mobilisation of companies in favour of carers, so that they can also respond to this requirement of "social and environmental responsibility".
President Emmanuel Macron has announced an acceleration of the vaccination campaign, starting 10 May. Five days in advance, the vaccination will be open to all people over 50 on 10 May. People aged 16 and 17 with conditions bearing a high-risk of severe multimorbidity with Covid-19 are now allowed to be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – the only one licensed for this age group. Finally, from 12 May, the slots still available the day before the appointment can be taken by all French people over 18, without any other age considerations. Vaccination for the over 18s should have opened on 15 June.
This acceleration coincides with the lockdown exit calendar, unveiled by the President in early May. Scheduled in four stages (3 May, 19 May, 9 June and 30 June), the calendar proposes a gradual reopening, with the end of the major restrictions, including the curfew, on 30 June. Terraces and non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen from 19 May, as will cinemas, museums and theatres, but with special conditions.
This strategy also relays what the Government calls a “health pass”, to be implemented from 9 June. Prime Minister Jean Castex confirmed that it will not be a vaccine passport, but a pass which will contain proof of vaccination, a negative test, or any proof of non-contamination with the virus. From 9 June, it will be necessary to present this pass "in places where crowds gather, such as stadiums, festivals, fairs or exhibitions", explained Emmanuel Macron. From 30 June, proof will be required for all events involving more than 1,000 people, both indoors and outdoors. The system has also already begun to be tested on Air France flights to Corsica and the French West Indies.