Faced with Covid-19, the need for democratic debate

Editorial of the “World”. We had almost forgotten it and yet … Thursday, November 4, the World Health Organization (WHO) called “Of serious concern” the number of infections with SARS-CoV-2 currently recorded in many European countries. With such a rate of transmission, the continent could deplore 500,000 additional deaths by February 2022, warned its director, Hans Kluge. First concentrated in the east, the resumption of contaminations now worries Germany, which has just reported 33,979 new infections in twenty-four hours. It is closely monitored by the French health authorities, who also note a rise in the curve, but in lesser proportions. The threshold of 10,000 daily infections was crossed on Thursday for the first time since mid-September.

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Sanitarily, the situation has nothing to do with what happened in March and October 2020, then in April 2021, when the government had to put the country under a bell for several weeks, in order to avoid the saturation of emergency services under the effect of new epidemic waves. The large-scale deployment of the vaccine policy since the summer has changed the situation, guaranteeing the immunity, at least temporary, of the most vulnerable.

The epidemic is however still there. It continues to influence our lifestyles, as evidenced by the reappearance in thirty-nine metropolitan departments and in Reunion Island of the wearing of masks for children who are preparing to return to school. It again dictates the political agenda with the programming of a new health defense council, Wednesday, November 10, to try to answer two questions: should children be vaccinated? How to speed up the injection of the third dose reserved for the moment for people most at risk? The epidemic is finally weighing on the presidential campaign, when the majority and the opposition hoped to be able to free themselves from it to project themselves into the world after.

Tight part

President without yet being a declared candidate, Emmanuel Macron is playing a close game: he must be very vigilant on the evolution of the health situation, but has no interest in breaking the springs of growth, which is showing itself much more vigorous than expected, to the point of already having positive effects on the unemployment curve.

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The Head of State must also reckon with the weariness engendered by the wearing of a mask and with the legitimate concerns arising from the restrictions placed on public freedoms, in particular through the health pass. The recent words of the government spokesman, Gabriel Attal, ensuring that the line of the executive was to ease the constraints as soon as possible, but to reactivate them “When the situation deteriorated”, contrasts with the martial tone that had prevailed at the very beginning of the epidemic. It’s happy.

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The opposition is however justified in being attentive to the respect of its rights. The lively debates which are taking place, at the moment, in Parliament on the new extension of the state of health emergency are not just a political game. They testify to a legitimate concern about the sluggishness of democratic life, after long months during which parliamentarians felt they were marginalized. By setting the deadline for the extension to July 31, 2022, the government pleads responsibility, but also gives itself the means to remain the master of the game as long as possible. This imbalance is, at this stage, one of the most worrying aspects of the management of the health crisis.

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Faced with Covid-19, the need for democratic debate