French lawmakers on Wednesday approved a 20 billion euro ($20.3 billion) package of measures to help struggling households cope with rising energy and food prices.
The 395-112 vote followed a heated debate in the National Assembly, where President Emmanuel Macron no longer holds a majority. The Senate also approved the package on Wednesday afternoon.
The proposal was one of the key promises of Macron, who was re-elected for a second term in April. It was also a crucial test of the government’s ability to lead the nation, and of the opposition forces’ ability to influence the legislative process.
Macron’s centrist alliance won a majority of seats in the National Assembly in June, but lost its outright majority after far-right parties and a leftist coalition made big gains, becoming sizable opposition forces.
Annual inflation has hit a record 8.6% for the 19 countries that use the euro, fueled by a big spike in food and energy prices, which have risen in part because of the war in Ukraine. In France, annual inflation is estimated at 6.5%.
“Your purchasing power is our priority,” tweeted Olivier Veran, a government spokesman. “To protect them from inflation, we kept the price cap on gas and electricity and have set a price cap of 3.5% to limit rent increases.”
The bill also includes a 4% increase in pensions and some social subsidies. As for fuel, the current reduction of 18 cents per liter, financed by the State, will become 30 cents in September and October. Private companies are also encouraged to offer their employees an annual tax-free bonus of up to 6,000 euros ($6,080).
The text was backed by members of Macron’s centrist alliance, the conservative Republicans party and the far-right National Group. It has been debated in Parliament along with an updated version of the budget law, which will be put to the vote this week.
The leftist Nupes coalition — the largest opposition force, made up of the far left, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party and the Greens — criticized the measures as insufficient and voted widely against the bill on Wednesday.
Aurélie Trouvé, of the far-left France Insumisa party, said that “nothing is equal to inflation… In fact, the project is making the decline in purchasing power a law.”
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