The President of the Senate received the Parisian journalists on Friday morning in an almost deserted Luxembourg Palace. Gérard Larcher, himself tested negative for the coronavirus after having felt “some symptoms”, judges that in the current situation “national disunity would be the worst thing”.
Emmanuel Macron and the executive have been the subject of numerous criticisms regarding the management of the crisis. Do you trust them?
Let me be clear, faced with this health crisis, I am by the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister. This is not the time for controversy. She is in action. This is why, in responsibility, the Senate showed it by voting in four days two texts on the financial and health emergency. We have regular contact with the Prime Minister and the President of the National Assembly. The day before the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister sent us the contents of the orders. It’s not so common!
VOur relations with the Head of State have been very fresh. And now ?
We exchange regularly, and I am fully available if needed.
Is the health crisis well managed?
I hear the questions, I observe the dysfunctions. But I insist, the urgency is the management of the sick. We will have to face the epidemic peak in a few days. The time will come to answer the questions that are legitimately asked today. We did it during H1N1 with the establishment of a commission of inquiry or during the heat wave in 2003. But I don’t mix the times. The priority is to be together, national disunity would be the worst thing.
Many right-wing officials say they are in favor of massive use of chloroquine. And you ?
Medicines do not belong to a political party! They are neither on the right nor on the left. I let the experts decide on the effectiveness of this drug. I share the Minister of Health’s decision to leave the responsibility to hospital doctors to use them and respond to them on a case-by-case basis, pending the results of the studies.
The government is considering establishing a tracking system, a telephone tracking system, to enforce containment. A good solution ?
It poses an essential question, that of the protection of privacy. But what may seem unethical and individual rights today, may prove necessary tomorrow to fight the consequences of the epidemic. I do not exclude anything a priori but, if we go to individual tracking, this must be framed by law and therefore under the control of the judge, it must be limited in time and under the imperative control of Parliament.
You supported the economic and social emergency measures. They are limited in time. Do you want to extend them?
These texts provide for a limit of two months, but certain ordinances also provide for the possibility of extending certain provisions until the end of the year. I support it. But I say to our fellow citizens, at the exit: we will have to roll up our sleeves!
As President of the Senate, are there more “territorial” concerns?
Since Thursday, the Senate has set up a telephone cell which allows senators to bring us up to date on the ground. The mayors are once again on the front line. La Poste, which has sharply reduced its services, poses a real problem. I called the president of the Post on Friday morning to let him know.
Do you support the creation of a parliamentary commission of inquiry?
The conference of presidents will decide. For my part, I am in principle in favor of the prerogatives of parliamentary control.
Civil society has filed criminal complaints against members of the government accused of negligence. What do you think ?
It’s part of democracy. I do not find this illegitimate, but let us not lose sight of the heart of the battle: the health emergency.
How do we get out of the crisis?
First you have to technically succeed in “deconfinement”. This requires massive screening capabilities and the means to test everyone necessary by blood test to find out who has been immunized and thus avoid a rebound in the epidemic. Olivier Véran made commitments on March 25 in the Senate. I have taken careful note of his statements. In the area of health organization, there is going to be a real revolution.
That is to say ?
We’re going to have to put everything back on the table, from the hospital’s status to public / private organization, including town medicine. We will have to ask ourselves the question of the territorialization of our health policies and our independence for the production of equipment and drugs.
Has Europe lived up to it?
I find that she reacted well financially. On the other hand, in health matters, it has demonstrated its lack of cohesion and its lack of preparation. We will therefore not escape better coordination of our health systems. Health must become a shared competence of the Union.
Should we maintain the second round of municipal elections?
We will know on May 23, with the submission to the Prime Minister of an expert report, if the health situation allows a second round before the end of June for the approximately 5,000 municipalities which have not elected their municipal council on the first tower. Otherwise, it will be in the fall and I think that the principle of fairness of the ballot will force us to repeat the two rounds. And in this case, the senators scheduled for September will have to be postponed.