“Politicians have understood that behind the industry is partly the future of democracies”


BOf course, it’s a matter of patriotism and the assertion of politics over economics. But behind the conflict which has pitted the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, against the boss of the manufacturer Stellantis, Carlos Tavares for several weeks, there is also a democratic issue. The former intends to convince the latter to relocate its e-208 factory, an entry-level electric vehicle, to France. The government is looking for a trophy in its offensive for the reindustrialization of the country, launched since the Covid-19 pandemic. He has sounding and stumbling arguments: like the United States, France is ready to mobilize public money to bring factories to its soil.

Stellantis is, for its part, a ready-made target: saved by the State for the first time in 2013, the PSA group (which merged with Fiat-Chrysler in 2021 to create Stellantis) was the first beneficiary of aid for partial activity in the automotive industry during the health crisis, for nearly 300 million euros. “I wish he (Carlos Tavares) takes up this challenge of building small electric vehicles like the e-208 in France”insisted Bruno Le Maire on BFM, July 4, taking the country to witness.

Opposite, Mr. Tavares opposes the cold economic reality, that consisting in “to be confronted with the brutality of what happens on a daily basis, he answers in Le Figaro. And this reality is that the cost structure of the western world is perfectly unsuited to compete with those of Chinese manufacturers.which produce “20% to 25% cheaper”. Producing in France is expensive, too expensive, even for French buyers. The middle classes cannot afford cars made in France.

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History has repeated itself ten times, in France and elsewhere. But the world has changed. Politicians have understood that the future of democracies is partly at stake behind industry. Brexit and Donald Trump have been there.

Polarization of the labor market and the electorate

A country that deindustrializes is a threat to itself. In the most affected regions, the destruction of industrial employment – ​​of which the automobile has been at the forefront with nearly 300,000 jobs lost in the sector since 1990 – has opened the way to the vote of the extremes. “A factory that closes is an RN permanent (National Gathering) which opens »is wont to say Mr. The Mayor, who observed the phenomenon closely in his stronghold of Eure, where he was elected for fifteen years, and where the RN won four out of five constituencies during the legislative elections of 2022.

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