French Minister Calls for Revival of Gaullism to Heal Economy

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A French minister is calling for a revival of Charles de Gaulle’s economic policies to prevent a social crisis following the deep recession sparked by the coronavirus epidemic.

Gerald Darmanin, the country’s budget minister, said President Emmanuel Macron’s government should expand the use of mechanisms created by de Gaulle in the 1960s to distribute more capital and profits to workers. By becoming significant stakeholders, workers would gain influence and spending power, Darmanin said.

“In a world in crisis, sharing wealth is an essential issue. The association of capital and labor is a solution to respond to the class struggle that is resurfacing,” he said in an interview with French Sunday paper Journal Du Dimanche.

The coronavirus epidemic, lockdowns and the ensuing recessions are forcing governments around the world to reconsider their economic models. With millions of jobs lost in a short space of time, there is a growing risk of a sudden jump in inequality and poverty. The social risks are particularly acute in France, where the Yellow Vest movement was protesting against inequality and low incomes well before the Covid-19 outbreak.

The budget minister said he has spoken to Macron about the idea. The president has already signaled that he intends to do more to boost incomes for low-paid workers from delivery drivers to nurses after the pandemic underlined their key role in society.

Darmanin said de Gaulle’s ideas of reconciling the interests of workers and business were never fully implemented, despite a tax reform last year to encourage companies to use profit- and capital-sharing mechanisms. A significant expansion of the measures now, Darmanin said, would have no cost to public finances and would help low-income workers play a greater role in society.

“Between unbridled capitalism and an administered economy, there is a third way,” Darmanin said.

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