2019 05 – News From France

Froggy: News From Across The Channel


Froggy said last month that the Socialist Party and the Communist Party did not have their own list for the forthcoming European elections.  It is true for the SP, but not entirely for the CP. The Socialists have joined a group called “Place Publique” to form a list, and the leader of that group is head of the list.  This is Raphael Glucksman, an essayist without militant experience, given to saying things like  ‘asking people to vote for me, it’s just not me’ on television.  He is one time adviser to the Georgian president Sakhashvili, being in that part of the world after a visit to Kiev during the Maidan coup.

The Communist list however is headed by Ian Brossat, a CP member, in fact the present spokesman of the party and also deputy leader of the Paris City Council in charge of housing.  A leaflet presents the first 7 members of his list.   They are admirable people, already known to the public in other contexts.  Elina Dumont for example is famous for the book and show she wrote about her experience of living on the streets for years.  She supports the Gilets jaunes.  Mamoudou Bassoum, Europe Taekwondo champion, stood on the podium wearing a yellow jacket when he won; he teaches the sport and is committed to social and environmental causes.  Neither are party members. However two thirds of the list are.

The CP list is forecast to get 2% of the vote.  After a successful television appearance by Ian Brossat, the CP is hoping for a higher percentage.


The great debate

Macron launched a ‘great debate’ as a way out of the GJ crisis.

The Gilets Jaunes on the whole rejected the very notion of this debate.  In the event the top social strata of the country participated predominantly, as made manifest by the opinions expressed: whereas 77% of the country are in favour of the reestablishment of the Wealth Tax, the debaters were 10% in favour.  Whereas the Gilets Jaunes demand lower VAT on essential goods, the debaters want an extension of income tax to more people.  [At the moment 50% of wage earners do not pay income tax, hence some contempt for the GJ: they don’t pay income tax.]  The government warned that many would be disappointed in the declarations following the great debate, and it won’t be proved wrong.

There is no unified GJ media outlet, anymore than there is one strong alternative media.  As a result few people knew about the other debate, dubbed ‘the true debate’ organised by some GJ and put together by the same Internet firm (a start-up called Cap Collectif) that organised the official debate.  90,000 took part in the ‘true debate’, ten times less than the official one.  But, unlike the official debate, each proposition made could be voted on by the other participants, which meant that a hierarchy of preferences could be worked out.  49 propositions came out of this procedure (see below for the first 12).

Macron was able to postpone having to explain his summing up and his decisions by the Notre Dame fire.


Notre Dame

Notre Dame is one of the big tourist attractions in Paris.  Anyone with an ounce of religious feeling (but not a lot of Christian forbearance) must find it an ordeal to visit.

Suddenly when it goes up in flames there is an outpouring of sentiment, and not just from France.  The nicest one comes from Annette Kramp-Karrenbauer, leader of the German CDU, who quoted in French a line from France’s most famous play (Le Cid, by Corneille) “Percé jusques au fond du coeur” (Pierced to the bottom of the heart).  An apposite one came from the Hungarian deputy prime minister who saw the fire as a “tragic symbol” of the “apocalyptic loss of values we are witnessing in the Western world”.

Writing about Notre Dame, a chronicler in Le Monde pointed out that the absence of a common European culture was written in the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties:  “The Community shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore.”  Paragraph 1 of Article 128 – EC Treaty (Maastricht consolidated version).

There is no common culture but there is a common heritage, and Gothic cathedrals are part of that.

The day after the fire, one of the biggest fortunes of France promised 100 million euro, then others piled in with 200 million euro each to rebuild it (They renounced tax deduction).  In two days nearly a billion had been pledged.  Homeless charities said a hundredth of those amounts would make a considerable difference to them.  Referring to Victor Hugo’s books, they said they were happy for Notre Dame, but what about doing something for Les Misérables?


Priscillia Ludosky

Priscillia Ludosky, one of the original Gilet Jaune, is a great beauty and looks perfect on screen. She speaks clearly and firmly, giving an impression of quiet strength.  You won’t see her on television though; she is so incensed by the way the media portrays the GJ that she refuses invitations to appear.  She said that the movement had good and bad like any movement, but the media only showed the bad, and ‘this is what our friends and relations see’.  She gave an interview to the Internet channel mentioned last month, Le Media.

Le Media was at first closely associated with France Insoumise, Melanchon’s movement, but there was a split on Syria, some journalists (who subsequently left) following the official line and attacking the dictator Assad, and others, sticking to a neutral line.  She made clear she would not support France Insoumise, despite their persistent efforts to co-opt her.

Ludosky took part in the campaign to support the newspaper l’Humanité, one time organ of the CP, by recording a brief clip to say that we must save newspapers that give good information and showing a copy of the paper.

At the demonstration on Saturday 20th April she was kettled with others by the riot police, even though the demonstration was authorised.  She showed the authorisation on her mobile phone to the police and asked to speak to a superior officer, in her calm voice.  This went on for a while, in the end she was sprayed in the eyes with tear gas.  She has made an official complaint.

This will add to the 290 investigations taking place at the moment. The Human Rights Council of the United Nations and Amnesty International have spoken about the excessive use of force by police in France during the GJ protest.

Ludosky said that she envisages the movement as lasting a long time.  The Saturday demonstrations will continue, but may be concentrated in certain cities.  There is one planned for the end of August in Biarritz for the G7 meeting and for Wednesday 1st May.


12 proposals Gilet Jaune ‘Debate’

  1. End of payment and privileges of elected representatives once out of office.
  2. Popular Initiative Referendum to be in the Constitution.
  3. Elected representatives must not have a police record
  4. Blank or spoiled votes to be taken into account; if a majority, the election is null and void.
  5. Nationalise motorways that are already paid for.
  6. Wages and pensions indexed on inflation; stop increase of CSG (a tax); increase pensions.
  7. Penalise and fight against tax evasion and fraud
  8. End CICE (tax credit for firms taking on new employees), or keep it only for small firms; refund monies if no new employment created.
  9. Deductions from MPs income if they are absent for votes.
  10. Ban lobbies from Parliament and institutions.
  11. Nationalise or renationalise gas, electricity and water as well as waste collection.
  12. Financial help for farmers who want to go organic; lower VAT for organic produce.