Macron launches national debate with open letter

Close-up of French centrist politician Emmanuel Macron

President's 2,300-word letter to French, in which he challengers detractors to come up with solutions to a series of issues, public marks formal start of consultation period

President Emmanuel Macron has launched a three-month national debate that he hopes will appease the gilets jaunes protesters.

In a 2,300-word open letter, he said that he was willing to listen to new ideas but insisted the government would not backtrack on previous reforms or key measures promised in his 2017 election campaign.

Read President Macron's open letter in English here

The letter, posted online by Elysée officials on Sunday and published in newspapers in France on Monday, marks the start of a nationwide consultation in which citizens are invited to give their views on four themes: taxation; the organisation of the state and public administration; ecological transition; and citizenship and democracy.

“No questions are forbidden,” Mr Macron wrote. “We will not agree on everything, that is normal, that is democracy. But at least we will show that we are a people who are not afraid to speak, to exchange views and debate. And perhaps we will discover that we might even agree, despite our different persuasions, more often than we think.”

Questions to be debated include: "Which taxes do you think should be lowered first?", "Should some public services that are out of date or too expensive be eliminated?", "What proposals do you think would accelerate our environmental transition?" and "Should we use more referendums?".

Mr Macron said he would "report directly" on the consultation in the month after the debates, which run from January 15 to March 15. He said the proposals collected during the debate would build what he called a new “contract for the nation”.

The president will embark on a tour of town-hall meetings around the country, the first of which will be held on Tuesday in northern France.

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