Sunday, May 22

Faced with storms, Castex defends Macron and the vaccine pass

Prime Minister Jean Castex on Wednesday called on deputies to accelerate the examination of the text establishing a vaccination pass, assuming the controversial remarks of Emmanuel Macron who said he was ready to “piss off” the unvaccinated.

“The unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off. And so we will continue to do it, until the end. That’s the strategy”, proclaimed the head of state in an interview with Parisian Tuesday, causing an uproar from oppositions. “When my freedom threatens that of others, I become irresponsible. An irresponsible person is no longer a citizen,” he added.

Summoned to explain himself, Jean Castex did not answer on the form but confirmed before the Senate, during questions to the government, his desire to put pressure on the unvaccinated. “Who insults the nation? Who fractures the nation? Who leads caregivers in our emergencies to make dramatic ethical choices? Well it’s a tiny minority,” he said.

Then in front of the deputies who were debating in a tense climate the bill transforming the health pass into a vaccination pass, the Prime Minister urged them to “debate as quickly as possible” of the text, given the health situation.

Some 332,252 new Covid-19 contaminations were recorded on Wednesday, a new record, while the number of hospitalized patients continued to increase, especially in critical care services. And 66,000 people had received a first dose of vaccine Wednesday, a record since October 1, according to the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, who seemed to make the link with the pressure exerted by the executive.

A state of health emergency has been declared in several French overseas territories (Guadeloupe, Guyana, Mayotte, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélémy) due to the “considerable increase” in cases.

– “Cold populism” –

“There is a difficulty with those of our fellow citizens who refuse to be vaccinated. It is not insulting anyone, it is reality,” insisted Mr. Castex, calling for “individual responsibility”.

“We were waiting for an apology and we had an alibi,” lamented LR deputy Julien Aubert when the patron saint of PS deputies, Valérie Rabault, pointed out that the head of government had “not pronounced” the name of the president of the Republic.

About 53% of French people said they were “shocked” by Emmanuel Macron’s words, and 47% “not shocked”, according to an Elabe poll published Wednesday evening.

Before the Prime Minister took the floor for about twenty minutes, the presidents of opposition groups in turn challenged him on the words of Emmanuel Macron, “who always want to fracture, again, all the time, French society only for political purposes “and testify to a” cold and calculating populism “, according to the boss of LR deputies, Damien Abad.

“Do you accept these words?” Asked the Communist Pierre Dharréville. “Apologize for these unworthy remarks,” said the president of the Insoumis to the Assembly, Mathilde Panot.

The deputy and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen accused on France Info the president of wanting to “persecute” the unvaccinated while the sovereignist candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan pointed to LCI “a Chinese vaccine control”.

Christophe Castaner, boss of LREM deputies, called for finding “serenity” when his modem counterpart, Patrick Mignola, scratched the LRs by ironing their hidden wish that the government had recourse to 49-3 to “hide divisions” within their group. “When we announced that we support a text we must go to the end,” he thundered.

– Report to the Senate –

At midday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal estimated that Emmanuel Macron’s words were “far below the anger of a very large majority of French people”.

But he had ruled out recourse to article 49-3 to have the bill adopted, given that a “majority is ready to vote it”.

The debates in the Assembly progressed slowly on Wednesday and the deputies did not exclude having to continue them on Friday, after several suspensions of sessions and heated debates in recent days, inflamed by the controversial remarks of Emmanuel Macron.

The deputies managed to agree on the thorny issue of the vaccination pass for minors, postponed from 12 to 16 years for school trips and peri and extracurricular activities.

In the Senate, the examination of the text, initially scheduled from Thursday, was postponed to next week, jeopardizing the entry into force of the law on January 15.

The leader of the LR senators, in the majority in the upper house, Bruno Retailleau, deemed it necessary, in “a hysterical climate”, to “put the game down”.

The Omicron variant which is sweeping the planet has pushed many countries to increase health restrictions, including Italy which on Wednesday introduced the vaccination obligation for those over 50 years old.


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