Thursday, February 2

Purchasing power, a growing concern in France weeks before the presidential election

Soaring energy costs, demonstrations for better salaries… The loss of purchasing power gains strength as the main concern a few weeks before the presidential election in April in France, where the ghost of the “yellow vests” protest is still present .

“Living on 1,300 euros ($1,450) seems impossible to us. We demand a minimum net salary of 1,800 euros, because it seems to us the really vital minimum to be able to pay their expenses,” Alain Capus, a public service unionist, told AFP on Thursday. , during a demonstration in Marseille (south).

France, the second largest economy in the European Union (EU) and among the top seven in the world, registers like its European neighbors an increase in inflation, driven by the rise in energy prices (+10.5% in 2021) in full economic recovery, after a 2020 marked by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, those increases could weigh on the long-awaited re-election bid of Liberal President Emmanuel Macron, who in 2018 faced a major protest movement known as the “yellow vests” triggered by rising fuel prices.

To prevent a similar outburst, which originated in rural areas and small towns and shocked the world with images of looting on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, the government awarded an “inflation compensation” of 100 euros ($114). to 38 million French.

El mares also announced greater tax deductions for those who use their vehicles for professional reasons, which could reach 150 euros per year on average.

“There are very few measures that have a substantial impact on something that is not up to us, like world prices,” Macron said during a recent visit to central France. For his future rivals in the presidential elections, these measures are insufficient and some demand a reduction in VAT on fuel.

The far-right Marine Le Pen, whom many polls give in the second round against Macron, denounced an “extortion” on the lives of the French due to gasoline prices. Leftist Jean-Luc Mélénchon promised an increase in the net minimum wage to 1,400 euros.

According to a survey by the Elabe institute published on Wednesday by BFMTV and L’Express, purchasing power is the issue that will weigh most when it comes to voting for 54% of French people, followed by health (33%), security ( 27%), the environment (24%) and immigration (23%).

Morgane, a 35-year-old single mother, is clear that she will not vote for Macron the “banker”. This historical “yellow vest” of Saint-Avold (north-east) alternating temporary contracts and unemployment. Her income level places her among the 9.3 million poorest French people.

“There are more expenses than income,” Morgane told AFP, who can earn 1,600 euros in the best months, although “most of the time it is around 1,000.” “This Christmas I asked my bank for an overdraft and an advance to the temporary company,” explained the woman who has already had to go to charity associations.

Although purchasing power has increased since Macron came to power in 2017 –“between 4% and 6%” on average in households, according to data from the General Directorate of the Treasury–, thanks to economic growth and social and fiscal, not everyone has benefited in the same way.

According to the Institut des politiques publiques, the poorest households, which represent 5% of the total, saw their standard of living decline. Liberal fiscal measures instead benefited wealthier families and middle-class workers in the private sector.

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