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Opposition slams Macron's proposed reforms

President Emmanuel Macron's announced reform measures on April 27 have been criticised by the opposition
President Emmanuel Macron's announced reform measures on April 27 have been criticised by the opposition @AFP

The day after President Macron delivered his long-awaited address to appease France's disgruntled classes, opposition parties and trade unions claim a lot is left to be desired. However, at least one trade union sees positive signs.

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Reactions were mixed in response to French president Emmanuel Macron's promises to make average French people happier. His promise of a further five billion euros in income tax cuts, have raised eyebrows. Twelve hours after Macron's speech, France's finance minister Bruno Le Maire tried to explain how this would happen.

Reactions on Friday in France to President Emmanuel Macron's speech, billed as a turning point for his presidency, were mixed.

A poll carried out for Le Figaro newspaper found that 63 percent of people found Macron unconvincing and 80 percent thought the Yellow Vest protests would continue.

Extremely strong language

Two of the strongest political reactions to French President Emmanuel Macron's statements on Thursday night came from politicians on the extremes of the political spectrum. They say his offers are an insult to the 'Yellow Vests'.

Ian Brossat, a Paris City council official and heading the European Elections list for the French Communist Party, PCF on the far-left, and Sébastien Chenu from the Rassemblement National, the former Front National on the far-right both, and separately, qualified the measures as a "bras d'honneur". The equivalent in English is a two-finger gesture.

True or false?

The left-wing political opposition were predictably critical about Macron's announced measures.

The First Secretary of the Socialist Party, Oliver Faure said, "The Debate was 'Grand' but the response small... where is the change in direction -- socially, ecologically or democratically? Nowhere."

Faure criticised the measures as being misleading, including the question of the legal retirement age.

Further left, from the France Insoumise party (France Unbowed), Alexis Corbière sounded combative: "There are as many reasons as before, perhaps even more, to keep up the pressure, because the president has heard nothing."

The Green Party (EELV)'s Yannick Jadot, who heads the party's European elections' list, was disappointed that the president seemed to "postpone and procrastinate" about climate issues, which he said "is terrible because there's an emergency."

On the right of the political spectrum, leader of Les Républicains (LR), Laurent Wauquiez, said the statements demonstrated a lack of direction, "we were hoping he'd change direction, but what did we end up with? Marginal adjustments."

Unions generally dissatisfied

Reactions from the opposition and trade unions varied, but all agreed that Macron was vague and left much to be desired in issues like the environment.

Laurent Berger, leader of one of France's main trade unions, the CFDT, was more or less positive. He said he appreciated an increase in pensions.

"Doors are being opened and we must dive into them", he said.

He nonetheless had reservations: "some measures concerning social justice are unclear," he said.

From the more left-wing CGT union, leader Philippe Martinez said "nothing satisfactory came from the president's mouth about salaries, minimum wage, wealth tax, or fiscal justice."

Emmanuel Macron durante esperada entrevista coletiva.
Emmanuel Macron durante esperada entrevista coletiva. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Tax cuts don't mean service-cuts says Finance Minister

Bruno Le Maire stepped in swiftly to promise that fresh tax cuts announced by President Emmanuel Macron would benefit low earners and not bust the budget.

"We are not going to let the deficit rise, we are not going to let the public debt rise." The French Finance and Economy Minister told French channel LCI on Friday.

10 billion euros worth of tax cuts and income top-ups were announced in December.

He said they might reduce the lowest bracket of income tax currently at 14 percent. Saying it was too "brutal" he added that it was also "dissuasive". The 30 percent second of income tax brackets could also be adjusted.

Le Maire also sounded reassuring by saying that the government would not cut down on public services.

The president made a series of announcements on Thursday evening after the Grand Debate, where he and his team along with local officials sought to act on everyday grievances against the government which sparked the Yellow Vest movement.

(with news agencies)
 

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