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French Nobel literature winner, others urge protests against Macron as inflation bites

PARIS — A group of French intellectuals including Nobel literature prize winner Annie Ernaux on Sunday urged people to join protests planned by the left for next week, accusing President Emmanuel Macron of not doing enough to help the poor cope with high prices while some companies make windfall profits.

“Emmanuel Macron is using inflation to widen the wealth gap, to boost capital income at the expense of the rest”, the group of 69 signatories, including writers, film directors and university teachers, said in a text published in the Journal Du Dimanche.

“It is all a matter of political will”, said the text, co-signed by Ernaux, who on Thursday became the first French woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The text said the government has not done enough to fight spiraling energy prices and declined to rise taxes on companies making windfall profits because of high inflation. 

While French inflation has risen sharply this year, mainly as a result of the war in Ukraine, the rise is among the lowest of euro-zone countries in recent months as the French government put in place measures ranging from a gas price freeze to food cheques and special subsidies on pump prices. 

The signatories made a call to join the protest march planned for Oct. 16 that is organized by the political movement of the hard-left France Unbowed party, which this year struck an alliance with more moderate leftwing parties to form France’s largest opposition bloc. 

The march, promoted by France Unbowed as being “against the high cost of living and climate inaction,” comes as Mr. Macron faces stiff resistance from unions over a planned pensions reform and as strikes by workers demanding a pay rise from retail to refineries have disrupted parts of the economy.

The Swedish Academy, in awarding the 82-year-old Ms. Ernaux the Nobel prize, said she “consistently and from different angles examines a life marked by strong disparities regarding gender, language and class”. — Reuters

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