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Cold technocracy: Bereavement law fiasco plunges Macrons party into turmoil

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Frances ruling party is scrambling to fend off accusations of insensitivity and incompetence after its lawmakers voted down a proposed bill extending paid leave from work for parents who have lost a child.

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Its the kind of PR disaster President Emmanuel Macrons government, so often accused of technocratic indifference, would readily have done without.

Recognising a “mistake”, lawmakers from Macrons LREM party on Tuesday began working on draft legislation to extend paid leave for bereaved parents from 5 to 12 days – precisely what they voted down only days earlier after they were instructed to do so by the government.

“When you make such an egregious mistake, first you admit it, then you fix it, after which you go a step further – and quickly,” said LREM lawmaker Olivia Grégoire.

“Well make amends,” added the governments spokesperson, Sibeth Ndiaye, recognizing a “political misjudgment”.

The stunning about-face followed a chorus of condemnation that rattled the administration, forcing the president to step into the fray.

In a rare rebuke, Macron, himself a frequent target of accusations of callousness, had urged his government at the weekend to “show humanity” on the issue.

Shameful

The plan to extend paid leave in the event of a childs death was originally put forward by the UDI, a small centrist outfit that is generally supportive of Macrons government.

The seemingly consensual proposal was backed by all other parties, but its surprise rejection by LREM lawmakers on Thursday resulted in a narrow defeat – and a deluge of criticism from members of the opposition and the public.

“Were talking about the mother of all tragedies here,” gasped prominent left-winger François Ruffin, accusing the ruling party of “pettiness”, while conservative lawmaker Pierre Cordier spoke of “a shameful” vote.

The suggestion by some LREM lawmakers that workers might instead “donate” their holidays to bereaved colleagues attracted particular scorn.

In further embarrassment for the government, the current and former heads of Frances business confederation, the Medef, said they also supported longer paid leave – undercutting Labour Minister Muriel Pénicauds initial claim that the proposal would place an unfair financial burden on French firms.

“We are governed by people who know nothing of real life,” commented Yannick Jadot, a leader of the Greens, denouncing “a form of cold technocracy”.

'I say merde!'

Pénicaud and her ministerial colleagues have since been squabbling over who should take the blame for the fiasco, while several of LREMs typically pliant lawmakers have accused the government of throwing them under the bus.

“Were caught between two fires,” Aurore Bergé, a party lawmaker and spokesperson, told French daily Le Figaro. “On one side theres the public, which quite rightly says we messed up; and on the other theres people in the cabinet who call us idiots. The idiots are the lawmakers who were simply loyal to their government!”

Seeking to quell the unrest, Prime Minister Read More – Source