France’s new Government Spokeswoman on Monday, May 23, 2022, said it will speed up work on a bill to help families with the rising cost of living, as Emmanuel Macron’s government is being overshadowed by rape allegations against one of his ministers.
The new Spokeswoman, Olivia Gregoire, while speaking to reporters at a news conference after the government’s first meeting, disclosed that the government will agree the draft bill should focus on boosting purchasing power in the coming weeks, before the June 12 and June 19, 2022, legislative elections, so that it can be voted by parliament as soon as it reconvenes.
“This text will concretely help all French people to reduce their constrained expenses”, Gregoire said, mentioning gas, electricity and transport and stressing the issue is an “emergency” for the government and a top priority for voters.
Weeks before a parliamentary ballot which the newly re-elected Macron is expected to win in order to carry on with his planned pro-business reforms, he is also trying to show he is concerned about the cost of living and food inflation.
Focus on the Rape Case Than Rising Cost of Living
During the news conference, all eyes, and most of the questions at the news conference were on whether Damien Abad, the newly appointed Minister for Solidarity and the Disabled, would remain in the cabinet after rape allegations were levelled against him.
Abad on Sunday, May 22, 2022, denied he raped two women, following accusations published by a website called, Mediapart. Government Spokeswoman, Olivia Gregoire, said that the complaints filed against Abad were closed by the prosecutor’s office with no further action.
“As far as I know there is no ongoing procedure against Damien Abad”, Gregoire said, adding that if more women had allegations against the new Minister, they should come forward and that it was up to Judicial Authorities to rule on such allegations.
The Women in Question
The women quoted by Mediapart said Abad forced them to have unwanted sexual relations with him in incidents in late 2010 and early 2011.
According to Mediapart (based on an earlier report given by Abad), one of the women filed a complaint to the police against Abad in 2017 which was closed without further action. Abad pointed out that his disability, a disorder called arthrogryposis that affected all his four limbs, made it physically impossible for him to commit the acts he was accused of.
Who is Abad?
Abad, who was previously the leader of the opposition Conservative Party in the Lower House, was Macron’s biggest catch in centre-right ranks.
Due to the lingering allegation, opposition politicians from the left have urged Macron to sack Abad. Green Politician, Sandrine Rousseau, in an interview with a French-based radio station intimated that “We need to send a strong signal to women that their word counts”. In televised comments to his new ministers at the start of the cabinet meeting, Macron did not mention the controversy.
“This government’s mandate is to be at the service of our compatriots”, Mr. Macron said, stressing that the cabinet is bringing together Ministers of different backgrounds and political stripes.
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