French People Demand Less Taxes From Government: Conclusions of Grand Public Debate

By David Vives

PARIS—Taxes in France need to be cut and quickly, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Monday, April 8, after listening to a presentation on the findings of the nationwide “Great Debate,” which he said revealed several frustrations felt by the French people, including tax “exasperation.”

Philippe said four main demands came out of the debate: tax cuts, re-establishing links with areas that feel abandoned, re-enforcing a democratic link with citizens, and better addressing the issue of climate change.

Yellow Vest protest in Paris
Demonstrators wave a giant French national flag as they march on rue de Rivoli, near place de l’Hotel ville in Paris, on Jan. 12, 2019. (Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)

“The first demand has to do with an immense exasperation with taxes. This exasperation does not date back to yesterday. My government takes its part of the responsibility. It has drawn a number of conclusions by canceling the carbon tax (fuel tax hike that initially sparked the ‘yellow vest’ protests), but even before that tax hike, this exasperation had reached its peak in all categories of the population,” he added.

The presentation outlined the initial findings that emerged from hours of discussions with local mayors and officials, high-school students, workers, intellectuals, as well as 1.9 million online contributions.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who launched the debate in a bid to calm the “yellow vest” protests and determine which policies people want the government to focus on, is due to announce proposals based on the results later this month.

According to a recent poll from the Elabe Institute, 79 percent of French people believe that the Grand Debate outcome won’t solve the current political crisis. This statistic confirms the feeling of a broadly shared distrust toward politicians. In other words, according to political observers, the Prime Minister’s objective of cutting taxes has to be followed by concrete acts.