The austere side of the Socialists
This week the French newspapers cover with continuing vigour, the rigour of the Prime Minister’s budget. It will spend less on civil servants’ salaries and on the educational system. The latter will be sujbect to reforms – though not the kind described during François Hollande’s campaign.
Le Figaro was just days ago criticising the Socialist government for being unduly dependent on tax rises to bridge the budget, but today it splashed its front page with news of pending austerity measures as well. It flagged up the fear felt by civil servants : two out of every three departing or retiring government workers will not be replaced in departments of ‘priority. ‘
Les Echos quotes a survey conducted this week – the day after Jean-Marc Ayrault’s budget speech – revealing a mixed public reaction to the direction it’s taking so far. More than a third feel it will have a positive impact, while 15% say it will not. Fully 38% expect no effect. Or they are still so puzzled over the storm of figures paraded by the papers this week that they didn’t know what to say.
With education taking up more than 42% of the national budget, it shan’t escape the sweep of the budget scythe. Le Parisien reports that a wide consultation process has begun, with an eye to overhauling the educational system. Libération highlights a few ideas of how to address the fact that 150,000 students drop out of school every year.