My people, the men and women of France! Here we are together with our country and future in mind. The events over the last few weeks in France and overseas have profoundly troubled the Nation. They have mixed legitimate demands and an outpouring of violence that simply cannot be accepted. Can I tell you right now that this violence will not be pardoned in any way.
All of us have been spectators to the game that the opportunists are playing. They are trying to exploit and distort sincere outrage and frustration. We have all seen irresponsible policies, the sole aim of which was to knock down the Republic, seeking disorder and Anarchy. No anger can justify attacking a police office, degrading a business or public buildings. Our freedom only exists because each of us can express opinions that others may not share, fearless that the opinions expressed clash with those of their confreres.
Yet when violence erupts, it causes freedom to be suspended. At that point, calm and public order must govern. We will use all our resources to ensure that this happens. This is because permanent structures cannot be built while your priority is securing public order. In regard to this, I have issued my government the strictest instructions.
But at the very beginning, I don’t forget that there is an anger, an outrage and it is an outrage that many of us French can share. I do not want to demean it by equating it with the unacceptable behaviour that I have just denounced.
First Anger cried out against a tax. The Prime Minister tasted its tears and responded by abolishing and suspending all the increases that we had planned to apply from the beginning of next year. But this anger is deeper. I feel that it is justified in some respects. It may well be our salvation.
It is anger of a couple, both of whom are working […]. Everyday they get up early and return late because they work far from home.
It is the anger of the single mother, widow or divorcee, who does not even really live anymore; who no longer has the resources to look after her children […] and who has no more hope. I have seen these brave women who, for the first time, are voicing this distress on so many roundabouts!
It is the anger of so many retirees of modest means: people who have contributed throughout their lives, who are often helping their parents and children at the same time and who cannot get out of it.
It is the anger of the most vulnerable: the handicapped whose place in society is still not sufficiently recognized. Their distress did not start yesterday but we have ended up getting used to it and it seems that they have been forgotten or erased from the face of this earth.
It is forty years of malaise that is now resurfacing: the malaise of workers who no longer are able to secure employment again; the malaise of the territories, the villages as districts see the services they offer to the public shrinking and life styles fading away; the democratic malaise, whose symptoms are a growing feeling of not being heard; the malaise with respect to the changes in our society; a secularity knocked over and lifestyles that create barriers and distance.
That came from far but it is there now.
There is no doubt that we did not know a year and a half ago how to respond quickly or forcefully enough. I take my share of the blame. I succeeded in making you feel that it was not my problem, that I had other priorities.
I also know that I have succeeded in hurting a few of you with my words. This evening I wish to talk straight. If I have fought to overthrow the political system that is in place – its habits and hypocrisies - it is precisely because I am thinking more about our country that I love and my legitimacy. [….].
A number of countries are going through the same evil that faces us. Yet I sincerely believe that we can find a way for all of us to climb out of it. This is my wish for France because it has been our vocation through History to open up ways that have never been explored. New routes for ourselves and the whole world, to tread and benefit from.
This is what I want for France because a people that is divided to this extent, that no longer respects laws and the friendship that must unite it, is a people that it digging out its own grave.
Yet another reason for wanting this is that I had a premonition of this crisis. That is why I myself put forward for your vote to reconcile the crisis and to move it along. I have not forgotten that this I what I promised to do and this is what needs to be done.
First, I wish to decree a state of economic and social emergency today. We want to build a France where merit and work are rewarded; where our children will live better than us. This can only be achieved by a better school, universities, apprenticeships and training for the very young and not so young. This is necessary to live freely and to work.
Investment in the Nation, in schools and education is unprecedented and I confirm this.
Do we want a France where one can live with dignity from one’s work? On this point, our progress has been too slow. I want to intervene quickly and take specific measures on this issue. I am asking Parliament and the government to do what is necessary so that from the beginning of next year, you, the French people, are able to live better from your work. A worker on the statutory minimum wage will see his salary increase by 100 euro per month from 2019. His employer will not shoulder the cost of this increase, not even a euro of it.
I want to recycle an idea that I find fair: the accepted increase of work constitutes an increase in revenue; additional hours will be paid without taxes or charges from 2019. What I want to see is a real improvement; one that is immediately perceptible; this is why I will ask all employers that are able do so, to pay a bonus at the end of the year to the people that work for them. This bonus will not attract tax or charges of any sort.
Retirees make up a precious part of our Nation. In 2019, any retiree that receives less than 2,000 euros per month, will be exempt from the raise in CSG that was introduced this year; the effort asked of them was too significant and it was not just. From tomorrow, the Prime Minister will present all these decisions to Parliament.
But we must not stop there. I need our big businesses, our wealthiest citizens to help the nation succeed. I know that in this context, some would like me to return to reforming the wealth tax. But this existed for more than 40 years. Were we living better during this period? The wealthiest of our confreres left the country and this weakened our country. According to the undertakings taken before you, this tax has been abolished for those who invest in our economy and thus help to create jobs. In contrast, it is still applied to those who whose wealth comprises of real estate.
Going back to the past would weaken us even though we are in the process of recreating jobs in all sectors. However, the government and Parliament will have to do more to put an end to unjust advantages and to tax evasion. The boss of a French business must pay his taxes in France and the big businesses that make profits there, must pay their taxes there. It is simple justice.
You see it. Our response to the economic and social emergency will be strong measures: lowering tax more quickly, better controlling costs rather than regressive steps.
I understand that the government is pursuing that ambition our people chose 18 months ago: transforming our country. Our task is to drive a radical reform of the State, compensation of employment and retirement. This is indispensable. We want rules that are more fair, more just, more simple, more clear; rules that reward those who work.
But today, it is also our collective plan that we must resume. For France and for Europe. This is why the national debate announced must be broader. For this, we have before all these things, to assume together all our duties. The duty to produce so that we can redistribute, the duty to learn so we can be free citizens, the duty to change in order to take into account the urgency of our climate and budgetary debt.
To succeed, we have to get together and address all the questions that are essential to the State. My wish is that the questions that are posed address the issues of:
• Representation: the possibility of an electoral law that is more just; taking into account of the blank vote and also allowing citizens that do not belong to a party to participate in the debate.
• Balancing our taxation so that it permits justice to prevail while at the same time ensuring our country is efficient.
• Our daily life - lodgings, travelling and getting about - confronting climate change.
And good solutions will also emerge from the ground.
I want to raise the question of how the state is organized, how it is governed and administered from Paris. There is no doubt that for decades, too much power has gravitated toward the centre. I also want to address the question of public service in all our territories.
I also want us to exorcise from the Nation any traces of schizophrenia, so that she digs deep and understands her true identity. I want too to address the issue of immigration. We have to tackle it.
These substantive changes require a profound and shared reflection. They require a debate like we have never known before. This debate will have to take place at the national level in our institutions. Each one will have a part in it: government, assemblies, social partners and associates; you will have your role in it. I myself want to guarantee its coordination. By receiving opinions, I will be taking the beating pulse of our country.
But such a debate is not the for institutional representatives alone; it must take place everywhere on the terrain and it is about natural interlocuteurs - citizens […]. This is why I myself will meet the mayors of France, region by region, to build the base for our new contract for the Nation.
We will not be able to resume the normal course of our lives, as too often in the past, in similar crises, unless we have some understanding and things have changed. We are at a historical moment for our country. Through dialogue, respect and commitment, we will succeed.
We are taking up the challenge and I will return to express myself before you so that you understand.
All I care about is you; my only fight is for you.
My only battle is for France
Let the Republic thrive, let France thrive.