A political party in France called the Socialists failed in an attempt to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine across the nation via inclusion in a mandatory national vaccination list necessary for all people in France born in 2018 or after. Consequently, the COVID-19 vaccine won’t be on this list of mandatory vaccinations. The French Senate ultimately rejected the bill seeking to make the COVID-19 vaccine included in the mandatory list. Titled “establishing vaccination mandatory against SARS-CoV-2,” the bill was ultimately put to the side by members of the Socialist Group in late August and was just finally rejected during an October 13 session by a vote of 262 to 64. As a result, the parliamentary effort to mandate these vaccines in France won’t proceed moving forward. However, it’s a moot point as a rigorous vaccine passport system governs behavior in France now and moving forward. While many praise this health pass system others lament the socio-economic inequities that result.
What’s fascinating is how the left and right politics have transformed over the past few years in places like America and France. The traditional left political goals often included an anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment paradigm interested in class and racial inequalities, environment, and universal health for example. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) we suspect would have formulated a very different response to America’s mandate should it have originated from previous POTUS Trump for example. But with the current Biden administration the ACLU is supportive of mandates. In fact, they go one step further and argue that vaccine mandates increase liberties.
Traditionally intertwined with redistributive policies, often in alignment with trade unions, the Socialist Group here became synonymous with a uniform, one-size fits-all approach to overcoming the pandemic via forced inoculation of all children born in 2018 or after.
France Political Parties
With a multi-party system in France, the dynamic politics are unlike what has unfolded in the United States. Continual negotiation and compromise are encouraged as several competing political parties make it a requirement for the government to work. A series of shifting alliances and coalitions progress the people’s business including whether in this case to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine.
Traditionally French politics here was dominated by two relatively stable coalitions including 1) center-left politics led by the Socialist Party which include minor partners The Greens and the Radical Party of the Left and 2) the center-right cohort led by The Republicans and Union of Democrats and Independents.
A change came to the world by 2016 in the U.S. and France in 2017 with the election of the current French president Emmanuel Macron, a centrist from La Republique En Marche, an independent party. This victory represented the first time a third party won the national election. He beat out the right-winger Marine Le Pen of the National Rally.
Voting Along Partisan Lines
According to the French Senate public site the Socialists nearly universally sought out mandatory vaccines, joined only by a few from the center and the right. Most other groups were opposed to any mandatory vaccines while 14 of the senators abstained.
The sentiment of the majority was summed up by Adrien Taquet, the Secretary of State for Children and Families who declared “We prefer to convince than to coerce.”
Vaccine Passport in France
Called Health Pass (pass sanitaire) it would extend the vaccine passport system to July 31, 2022.
Presently this ubiquitous national vaccine passport scheme drives more vaccination as it is increasingly necessary for employees and patrons of business to prove vaccination status. For example, proof of COVID-19 vaccination is necessary for employees as well as customers to access long-distance transport or even local restaurants, cafes, bars, movie theaters, sporting events, and the like.
The Cost—Inequity for Some
But there are socio-economic costs for such a system. A two-tier class system could possibly emerge essentially amounting to a situation where one set of the population checks on the others with the rights of children and poorer communities trounced upon.
Along these lines critics lament that the French vaccine passport system carries inherently socio-economic and racial bias as activists such as Claire Hedon of la Defenseure des droits (defender of rights) declared recently that a “democratic debate” should have occurred prior to the passage of a law that “is suggesting deep changes to rights and freedoms, which are really the foundation of our social and republic pact.”