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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Macron, candidat de l’enfumage dans un pays en désarroi

by Gérard Le Puill

Macron, master of the smoke-screen, and candidate in a country in distress

The rolling news channels continue to suggest the likelihood of Emmanuel Macron becoming President of the Republic.

Translated Monday 20 March 2017, by Anne Sanders

A poll of voter intentions by Harris Interactive for France Télévision places Emmanuel Macron in the lead for the presidential election. While Fillon is slipping and Hamon and Mélenchon cancel each other out, some sections of the media seem to have adopted a strategy of promoting the En Marche! candidate.

While François Fillon finds himself somewhat handicapped by the methods he used for years to make himself money, the television and its rolling news channels continue to suggest the likelihood of Emmanuel Macron becoming President of the Republic. These channels feature rallying cries, from Robert Hue to Bertrand Delanoë, and speculate on those likely to take action from among some ministers from Bernard Cazeneuve’s government. Macron - former minister of the economy under Manuel Valls - looks set to be unbeatable.

This morning, a poll of voter intentions by the Harris Interactive Institute for France Télévision places Emmanuel Macron in the lead in the first round of the elections by 26% , in front of Marine Le Pen at 25%, while François Fillon is at 20%. This is an increase of 6 points in two weeks for Macron, which is largely due to François Fillon’s problems. Benoît Hamon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon respectively are credited with 13% and 12%, losing one point each on the previous poll by the same institution. Nevertheless, between them, these two represent a quarter of the projected votes, even though they lie in fourth and fifth position in the ballot, which only selects two candidates for the second round. When questioned on their reasons for being in favour of the En Marche! candidate, Macron, 63% named his “plan”, 57% his ability to bring in new ideas, 56% the desire to see him win this election and 54% his honesty. Yet one wonders how much the electors know about this “plan” of Emmanuel Macron and his campaign team. For example, what is the economic advantage in transforming the CICE (The Competitiveness and Employment Tax Credit - a measure to support businesses) by reducing social security contributions by 6% for all businesses? Many of these– top of the list being the big supermarkets–create no wealth whatsoever, while plundering their suppliers thanks to the Modernisation of the Economy Act pushed through by François Fillon in 2008, who was inspired by a report drawn up by none other than Emmanuel Macron. What is the point, moreover, in removing sickness and family salary contributions in order to increase small salaries by 20€ a month, as proposed by Macron, when this sum will be reclaimed by an increase in the CSG, the social security contribution, which will reduce spending power for other employees and especially for retired people whose pensions will thus be reduced?

Under Macron, there would be ever more job insecurity in the workplace

Appropriating some of what was Nicolas Sakozy’s political stance, Macron is also proposing exemption for employers from paying social security contributions on overtime. Now this is a perversion which would be detrimental to social welfare. Currently, the first 8 hours of overtime above the legal 35 hours a week are paid at a rate of 25% more. If the employer offers further overtime to his employees, they are paid at 50% more per hour, above 43 hours per week. These increases have a dual effect. If you work more, you have obviously earned a bit more by the end of the month. But these higher-paid hours also put more money into the coffers of the social security system, pensions and unemployment benefit. By reducing the hourly cost of these overtime hours thanks to a reduction in social security contributions, the global effect is to thus reduce the salary which finances social welfare. What is more, you limit the number of new jobs on offer, which leads inevitably to a higher level of unemployment.

As regards unemployment, Macron’s project confirms that unemployment benefit “will be strictly determined by efforts to look for a job, with a stringent system of checks”. Unemployment benefit could be cut after two jobs have been turned down, where the salary would be the same as, or 80% of, that in the last job held by the job-seeker. As a reduction in the rates on overtime tend to lead to a reduction in job offers, finding a suitably-paid job will be made even more difficult for job-seekers.

This morning two studies by INSEE (the National Institute of Statistics) were published. The first tells us that the importance for the economy of the manufacturing industry, which was 19.6% in 1995 within countries in the current Eurozone, has dropped to 16.9 in 2015. The manufacturing industry has shrunk in France, Italy and Spain, but has remained stable in Germany. A second study tells us the French economy created 187,200 jobs in 2016 in the commercial sector. But business and the construction industry have lost a total of 35,700 jobs over the same year. At the same time, job opportunities have taken the form of an increase of 12% in temporary jobs, that is to say ten times more than the job opportunites in percentage terms. The trend, therefore, is of an ever increasing lack of job security in the workplace. Macron and his team of technocrats have a pro-slavery approach, which will increase this trend. Macron has been claiming for years, moreover, that workers in insecure jobs are victims, not of exploitation by employers, but of the guarantees in terms of the statutory right to work and permanent contracts still enjoyed by workers. According to the En Marche! candidate, it is by making a greater number insecure, that perfect equality can be achieved between those with insecure jobs and those who are not yet in that position. Better to know this, before you go to vote!

Gérard Le Puill

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