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French government announces phase two of the 'Great Debate'

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Sébastien Cherrier's mobile bar stops everyday in French villages whose local meeting-place, the bistro, the French equivalent to a pub, has shut down RFI/Pierre René-Worms

The Grand Débat or Great Debate, will continue into April said the French local authorities minister said on Sunday.


"We're entering a new phase of meetings," Sébastien Lecornu said, "and we will put forward concrete measures."

The 'Great Debate'

Launched in January, the Grand Débat was the govenrment's response to the ongoing Yellow Vest anti-government protest.

In the past two months, President Emmanuel Macron has been meeting local officials and ordinary French people to bring him and his cabinet up-close and friendly with the realities of daily life in France.

Speaking to the national Sunday newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, Sébastien Lecornu, who is one of the cabinet members in charge of the Grand Débat, avoided stealing the French leader's thunder.

However he did say that the most important thing is to "continue to lower taxes", He also suggested that the decentralisation law in France could be amended, and that might include making smaller regional entities, reversing the trend of the past decade. This he implied would give more clout to some of the local authorities.

Macron's party La République en Marche party (LaRE) is expected to provide more details later Sunday.

LREM's measures

One of Macron's LREM party's leading spokespeople, Stanislas Guerini on Saturday told Le Parisien newspaper, that they are going to announce today, Sunday, what are sure to be popular measures, including returning to an index-linked state pension.

As part of the government's reach-out programme four conferences are due next week in Paris, attended by trade unions, political officials and NGOs.

Lecornu said that by the summer 2019, the President should have laid out new guidelines and measures will be launched.

The minister summed up the government's efforts in the first, two month-long, phase of the Grand Débat in a few figures:

  • 10 thousand meetings
  • 1.4 million comments on the GD online platform
  • 16,000 GD complaints books supplied to town halls

Local prefects, have said that at the end of the first stage, the most frequently raised issues are political officials' privileges, tax, buying power, the 80 km/h speed limit, neglect of rural areas and immigration.