A few days before the vote to elect the chairman of the National Assembly’s Finance Commission, scheduled for Thursday (30 June), Eric Coquerel, candidate on behalf of the coalition of left-wing forces NUPES answered questions from EURACTIV France.
Eric Coquerel is deputy for the 1st constituency of Seine-Saint-Denis.
In an interview on Saturday (June 25) with Agence France-Presse, Emmanuel Macron explained that the ideas of La France insoumise (LFI) and the National Rally (RN) “do not comply with the principles of the Republic”, even if he does not put an “equals sign” between the two parties. How do you react to these comments?
It’s all very political. When Mr. Macron needed the voices of the left to block the RN in the between-two-rounds of the presidential elections, he made Jean-Luc Mélenchon applaud.
How things have changed since the legislative results! Faced with this unprecedented situation of relative majority, Mr. Macron has the attitude of a child-king: he refuses to accept political reality for what it is.
In fact, he is looking for support from the Les Républicains (LR) party in order to create a coalition that is compatible with his neoliberal system. At the same time, he tries to divide the NUPES, but we will not give in.
However, it would seem that the divisions within the NUPES are real: refusal to form a united group in the National Assembly, criticism from the national secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF) Fabien Roussel against the alliance… Isn’t the NUPES already breaking up?
Mr. Roussel’s remarks no longer commit the PCF. Throughout the negotiations between the left parties, Mr. Roussel made outings in the media which were then denied by his delegation. In practice, it is indeed the PCF delegation, and not Mr. Roussel, which allowed the agreement to be made.
As for a united parliamentary group, it was not in the basic agreement, signed before the legislative elections. If LFI has always thought that a united group would be more effective against the RN, it is not necessary for all the forces of the left to work together. We will have weekly meetings and decisions will be made together.
Today, the NUPES coalition works, and it works well.
Yet divisions persist on major issues, such as Europe…
Paradoxically, on the European subject which seemed the most complicated, we found a very clear agreement: we are not anti-Europe and in no case do we wish to leave the EU, but we are ready to disobey the rules which would prevent us from apply the NUPES program.
We cannot deny the deep disagreements between the euroscepticism which characterizes LFI and the federalism which is at the heart, for example, of the position of the ecologists.
But an agreement was still reached! Things might be different if we governed, but today this agreement allows us at least to say things in a united way.
With the granting of candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, the EU has sent a “historic” political message, according to Emmanuel Macron. What is your analysis?
This is obviously a strong political sign. We believe that the EU can be a tool for social and ecological progress, but it requires social and fiscal harmonization, without which competition between peoples will lead to new nationalisms. The EU cannot be a machine for lowering the standard of living. The example of Ukraine is obvious at this level: the minimum wage is 140 euros.
Solving geopolitical problems through the integration of new countries into the EU does not work: we must also ensure social and ecological non-regression and ensure that the EU always aligns itself with the country best- saying in social terms.
You have been nominated as a candidate for the presidency of the Finance Commission by NUPES. If elected, which president will you be?
I will be a real counter-power, as provided for in the texts. The cries of panic that we hear today about an LFI presidency remind us of the idea that the opposition has, for a long time, been compatible with the neo-liberal system supported by the various governments, even under Francois Hollande [président de la République de 2012 et 2017].
Today, a radical left is back, ready to present an alternative to the austerity policies promised by Mr. Macron.
Eric Woerth accuses you of wanting to “do tax audits” if you are elected president…
This is absurd: I obviously will not embark on a witch hunt of my political adversaries – I am bound by tax secrecy and I will respect it. The reactions of each other are so disproportionate that I wonder if they don’t have something to hide…
Nevertheless, combating tax evasion is a crucial issue that will be at the heart of my action, as the McDonald’s case reminds us, accused of tax evasion [qui paiera une amende de 508 millions d’euros].
What are the other priority topics to be covered?
I wish to make better use of Article 40 of the Constitution [qui dispose que les amendements parlementaires ne sont pas recevables s’ils ont pour conséquence une diminution des ressources publiques, ainsi que la création ou l’aggravation d’une charge publique].
The former President of the Commission Éric Woerth had a very broad reading of this article, which prevented the tabling of numerous amendments during the last term of office. I want to enforce this rule in a more limited way, clearly clarifying its contours.
What relationship do you intend to maintain with the RN? Is dialogue between LFI and the RN possible?
Let’s see if they show up in the Hemicycle: they were almost never there for five years. Then, given the pedigree of some new elected officials, I’m afraid that the conversations will be complicated…
I can’t imagine a dialogue with the RN, which is not a Republican party, given their history and their roots. Despite the “de-demonization” so much advocated by Marine Le Pen, the themes remain far-right. As much as I can go for a coffee with members of the LR, as much as I cannot with the RN.
However, in the Together-RN duels in the second round of the legislative elections, 24% of NUPES voters voted RN. What message are you sending to these voters?
I am sending the same message as that sent by Mr. Mélenchon to the ” angry not fachos “: in no way the RN is a solution to the social anger that animates the country.
On the economic and social levels, the RN and the presidential majority share the same liberal ideas, in particular on the subjects of deficit and public spending. These two parties agree to push back the retirement age, or even to lower employers’ contributions. It is therefore not by chance that high-ranking macronists like the Keeper of the Seals Éric Dupont-Moretti or Éric Woerth reach out to the RN.
Moreover, Mr. Macron’s first term ended in measures that could very well have been implemented by an RN government: remember the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin who explained during a televised debate that Marine Le Pen was too “ soft » on the subjects of Islamism!
The government is preparing to present its “purchasing power” bill. Are you going to participate in the negotiations on the text?
The NUPES is preparing to table a social emergency bill this week, which brings together our legislative promises: SMIC at 1,500 euros, increased pensions, increase in social minima, guaranteed income for young people in vocational high schools, blocking of prices and rents.
How are you going to fund this bill?
Our proposal will cost 64 billion euros which, more or less, will be financed by the restoration of a progressive wealth tax, by abolishing the flat tax on capital, and by imposing a new exceptional tax on companies “profiting from crisis “. Finally, we will eliminate certain anti-ecological tax loopholes.
For the rest, we are not for a return to 3% budget deficits – which means that we are ready to increase spending if necessary.