🏆The Weekly Dispatch - Taking the lead
11/12/2022 - France expected to stave off recession, Bayrou calls for “educational effort" on pension reform, Number of teachers is on the rise, LFI enforces new leadership, and EELV has a new leader
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🏆As a quick celebration…
Last night saw the age-old rivalry between France and England being played out, with France coming out ahead and sending itself into the semi-finals to face Morocco for a place in the finals.
While I may be personally boycotting the World Cup for moral reasons, I still think it’s important to celebrate a nice little victory like this (and hell, who knows, maybe the French Dispatch will one day have a sports section?)
🏦France expected to stave off recession
Some good news came out of France this week on the economic front.
While the French national bank shared an analysis indicating that the economy will only grow by around 0.1% in Q4 2022, the analysis also showed that France will avoid a recession (two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth).
Having seen the energy and cost of living crisis cause its GDP to fall by 0.2% in Q3 of 2022, the latest news shows that French companies, and the French economy, are resilient and are maintaining levels of activity (particularly in construction and services) that will keep the economy going, and will ultimately help get the economy through the ongoing crises.
🏫Bayrou calls for an “educational effort” on pension reform
With the ongoing debate continuing regarding the topic of pension reform, with President Emmanuel Macron having held the line on setting retirement at 65 years of age, discussions are now moving further towards the modalities of the reform process.
MoDem President, Mayor of Pau, and High Commissioner for Planning, Francois Bayrou, has once again joined these discussions as he attempts to rebuild his political image after a brief spell in the wilderness, particularly with the possibility of reinforcing MoDem’s position within the Presidential majority.
Calling for more citizen engagement in the topic, he argued that “The French, through the State and the Parliament, are free to decide what they use their budget for”, reminding us of the role of elections in a democracy. However, he also added that “they still need to be perfectly informed, since in the end it is they who will pay. And until now they were not”
He also complained of the behaviour of the actors, stating that the discussions had become “a debate between specialists, government on one side, social partners on the other. However, citizens, retired or active, should be the first to be concerned. We have not, collectively, made the necessary educational effort”.
On the policy side, his Commission has released a note on pension reform proposing several acts, most notably the extension of the required contribution period for receiving a pension, which would “improve the financial balance of the schemes”.
Alongside this, there was also a suggestion of increasing employer pension contributions from 16.5% to 17.5% of gross salary, which will also form a part of discussions on how this pension reform will be shaped.
🧑🏫Number of teachers on the rise
Good news on the education front, with the Minister of National Education, Pap Ndiaye, announcing today on France Info that the number of candidates who registered for the competition to enter teaching had reached a total of 185,000 as of the deadline for applications.
While a 9% increase for primary education and a 4% increase for secondary education compares to 2021 applications, Ndiaye was clear that this was “not enough to reverse the trend”.
What needs to be taken into account is the tests themselves, “and who shows up and who is admitted", as not everyone necessarily shows up for the tests which will impact the number of teachers. Last year, for example, there were 4,000 unfilled positions, which led to an increase in less-trained contract workers.
Ultimately, there will likely to continue to be a problem with recruiting trained teachers in the short-to-mid term, and the government will continue to have to work with the education sector to try to find some kind of solution to an increasingly problematic system.
🔨La France Insoumise enforce new leadership
There have been more problems coming out of La France Insoumise lately, one of the many parties looking for new leadership to take them to the next stage of their political and societal development.
The big issue is that there have been internal decisions for leadership positions that have been taken without the consent of the membership, and which appear to have been taken in a top-down manner with the support of Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
With Manuel Bompard expected to become the new leader, there was also an interesting dynamic where former heavyweights within the party appeared to be sidelined: Alexis Corbière, Clémentine Autain, François Ruffin, Eric Coquerel, for example, were not even invited to the event announcing these position.
Gabriel Amard, MP the 6th constituency of the Rhône, stressed that the party was focusing on renewal, with “more than 50%” of the 21 members of management being new. “The work continues, between now and the next representative assembly in June; the parliamentary group will have to work on the modalities of its representation”.
However, some of those who seemed excluded seemed less-than-offended, with Eric Coquerel saying that the decision was “natural because he knows how to organize very well”.
🌳New management for the EELV
And as a final note, Europe Ecologie-Les Verts have also made a decision on who their next leader will be, and who will lead them into their period of restructuring post-Yannick Jadot and Sandrine Rousseau, and into the 2024 European Elections.
36 year old Marine Tondelier received the support of the majority of mayors and deputies within the party, and having been a long-term member who worked closely with several of the party heavyweights, she was also helped by an internal rule banning mayors or parliamentarians from becoming national secretary.
One deputy even went as far as to say that “Marine is the default leader, it's the last one left in their motion”, having been mentored by former deputy Céline Duflot.
We can expect her to follow a similar political line to previous politicians, with the likeliest political development being a restructuring and reinforcement of the existing ideology of popular ecology, and an attempt to reinforce party independence vis-a-vis the NUPES coalition.
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