Give us truth and lower taxes, says France

Emmanuel Macron © Rex Features
Macron put on a good show

After a “nationwide debate” organised by President Macron, billed “as one of the greatest advances in democracy since Athens”, the French government is “poised to begin a second wave of reforms”, says Adam Sage in The Times. The results of the consultation, which included 1.9 million posts on a website, as well as suggestions from books placed in 16,337 town and village halls, seem to indicate that voters want “honesty and lower taxes”. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe acknowledged frustration at tax rates that are “the highest of any developed country” and promised to “lower taxes and lower them faster”.

But it’ll take more than that, says Pauline Bock in The New Statesman. The results suggest that the French want any reductions focused on sales tax, which disproportionately affects the poor. They also want some taxes to rise, with a large amount of support for “the reintroduction of the wealth tax that Macron abolished in 2017”. Despite this, the French government has said that any tax cuts will be balanced by cuts in public spending, and have already vowed not to “change course” on several core policies, suggesting that “Macron’s great debate” was “just for show”.

Yet that show “more successfully bludgeoned the yellow vests into submission than any number of riot police”, says Adam Nossiter in The New York Times. Only 22,300 people marched in a protest across France on Saturday; support for the movement has fallen to 35%. Macron also “clawed back some of the popularity he lost” at the height of the protests, overtaking Marine Le Pen’s far-right party in the polls for the European elections.