Managing the coronavirus pandemic has become the latest electoral weapon in France. A parliamentary debate to approve the vaccination passport that should pass without problems in the National Assembly at dawn from Monday to Tuesday became a new political pulse of electoral overtones that caused the temporary interruption of the discussions and an exchange of accusations of incompetence and lack of foresight against the Executive, which speaks for its part of political irresponsibility, especially of some presidential candidates. The new capacity limitations at large events are also a source of tension as political parties prepare to launch the large campaign rallies for the presidential elections in April.
The kind of truce that the opposition gave to the government in the worst of the crisis ended long ago, in the spring of 2020. Criticism since then has multiplied, despite which, the night maneuver in the National Assembly was somewhat that neither the macronism nor the press, which has described it as a “theater coup”, knew how to anticipate. On Monday, the deputies began to discuss the bill that the Government has accelerated so that, by the middle of the month, the covid passport becomes a vaccination passport. That is to say, that only a complete vaccination schedule is useful, and not a negative test, to enter closed public places such as cinemas or restaurants. The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, had underlined the urgency of the measure and anticipated that the discussion of the bill and the more than 600 amendments that the opposition had presented would last until well into the morning. The legislative majority of the Government and the support for the measure from the political opposition, including the presidential candidate of the conservative group Los Republicanos (LR), Valérie Pécresse, predicted a long and tense session, but without surprises. However, shortly after midnight, the surprise came: at a time when there were few Macronist parliamentarians present in the room, the opposition managed to approve, in a vote by show of hands, the suspension of the session.
The interruption will have few practical consequences. The parliamentary debate has resumed this Tuesday afternoon and the Government has shown itself willing to force the times as long as it takes so that the law can be approved and implemented on time. But the electoral flavor of the mouth will not be so easily diluted.
The prime minister, Jean Castex, denounced this Tuesday “an irresponsible political coup” at a time when historical rates of infections are reached – almost 300,000 in 24 hours, according to Véran – and health personnel work non-stop. “We are in a race against the clock, the virus gallops and you are pulling the handbrake. What are the citizens going to think?
The leftist deputy and presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has replied that the suspension of the debate is a sample of the “arrogance of the Government that ended up unnerving everyone” and that it should make the Executive “reflect”.
For his part, Pécresse indicated that his party criticizes “the lack of preparation of this government, its improvisation during the crisis.” Despite this, and the fact that there is no absolute consensus in its formation, he assured that his group “will not oppose” the bill either in the National Assembly or in the Senate, where LR is in the majority.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
The conservative candidate also assured that her party will be “exemplary” and will respect the capacity limit of 2,000 people set by the health crisis for indoor events, a measure that does not officially affect political rallies and that has also created controversy among presidential candidates , some of whom refuse to limit their encounters. However, the celebration of the same continues, before the advance of the omicron variant, in question. The day before, the ultra candidate Marine Le Pen announced the delay until February 5 of her big campaign rally due to “the health situation.”
Follow all the international information at Facebook Y Twitter, o en our weekly newsletter.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.