11:41 GMT24 January 2020
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    French President Emmanuel Macron was reportedly supposed to announce reforms, dubbed by some media outlets as a new chapter in his presidency last week. However, these alleged plans were interrupted by the Notre Dame fire.

    French President Emmanuel Macron announced Thursday that he wants to simplify rules to allow more referendums. 

    "The transformations that are in progress and the transformations that are essential for our country should not be stopped," Macron said in his first solo news conference at the Elysee Palace."

    At the same time, he has pledged to cut the income tax.

    "I want cuts for people who work by significantly reducing income taxes," Macron said during a speech in which he is laying out his response to five months of anti-government protests. "I have asked the government to implement this tax cut by financing it through the elimination of some tax breaks available for companies, by the need to work longer, and reductions in our public spending."

    The reforms were announced in the wake of the Yellow Vests protests that have been raging in the country for five months. Following the rallies, Macron launched his "Grand National Debate" on 15 January to try to quell the biggest crisis of his presidency. Some 500,000 people participated in them, while others filled out questionnaires or offered suggestions on the official debate website.

    READ MORE: PR Operation: Macron Uses Notre Dame Blaze to Stage Show of ‘National Unity'

    Simultaneously, the French president has undertaken a tour around the country to engage local mayors and residents in discussions, promising the French people that his government will ultimately "transform anger into solutions". However, this did not prevent people from returning to the streets of Paris and other cities Saturday for protests, with many yellow vests dismissing whatever he had to offer.

    Macron previously unveiled a 10-billion-euro package of tax cuts and income top-ups for the working poor and pensioners as an attempt to reconnect with voters. Nonetheless, most yellow vests accused the president of taking their top demands off the table — including the return of a popular "solidarity tax" on the rich, which he had cut, as well as citizen-sponsored referendums. There was also a marked absence of young people from the process.

    READ MORE: Macron at 'Critical' Standoff Stage With Yellow Vests Protesters — Scholar

    Political Islam

    The French president in his speech touched upon the issue of political Islam, calling it a threat. According to him, Daesh* seeks "seccession" with France.

    Previously, Macron, commenting on the Daesh defeat in Syria, announced by the US-backed Syrian Defence Forces, stated that the main threat facing France had been eliminated. Though, he noted that "the menace remains and the struggle against terrorist groups must continue".

    At the same time, the issue of Jihadists' repatriation still remains sensitive and politically fraught in France as the country has not fully recovered from the Daesh-claimed attack of November 2015, in which 129 people were murdered. Western countries appear to be looking a tad differently at how best to handle the repatriation issue.

    *Daesh (also known IS, ISIS, ISIL) is a terrorist group, banned in numerous countries, including Russia

    Tags:
    referendums, tax cuts, reforms, income tax, Emmanuel Macron, France
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