Meals at 1 euro for all students: we explain how the rejection of the text in the Assembly was played out, by one vote

The socialist bill was rejected in extremis, Thursday, during its examination in the hemicycle of the Palais-Bourbon.

Every vote counts in the National Assembly. The deputies rejected by one vote (184 against, 183 for) a bill from the PS group introducing access to one-euro meals for all students, on Thursday 9 February. This rate is currently reserved for scholarship holders and the most precarious. We explain you this very close and commented rejection.

A socialist law proposal examined in a “parliamentary niche
While the National Assembly is in the middle of a debate on the pension reform bill, Thursday was devoted to the Socialist group’s bills, as part of its “parliamentary niche”. On this occasion, the PS deputies, who had the hand on the agenda, tried to get several texts adopted, including a bill to prevent the “dismantling” of EDF or another to introduce a one-euro menu for all students.

Article 1 of this bill provided that “the price of meals distributed by the regional centers of university works, in all their catering sites, cannot be higher than 1 euro”. This 1 euro meal ticket had already been implemented by the government in 2020 for higher education scholarship holders, then extended in January 2021 to all students, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But for the 2022-2023 school year, only scholarship and precarious students are eligible for the rate. Other students receive a meal at the social rate of 3.30 euros. “While only 38% of students receive a grant, it is not understandable to deprive the other 62%, or nearly 2 million young people, a meal at a price ‘accessible, “said the socialist deputy Fatiha Keloua Hachi, who carried this text for his group.

The presidential majority denounces an “unfair” measure and gathers its troops on the wire
The Macronist deputies fought against this measure, considering it “unfair”, on the grounds that it would have benefited also students from wealthy backgrounds. “Thanks to you, the children of your friend Bernard Arnault will be able to go to the Crous and pay only 1 euro,” for example, the Renaissance deputy Sylvain Maillard launched in the Chamber. His colleague Anne Brugnera, for her part, pinned a “demagogic” measure.

The Minister of Higher Education, Sylvie Retailleau, also argued against the measure, which she estimated to cost “90 million euros” at least. She emphasized the existence of social pricing of meals for “students in difficulty”.

After the first victorious votes on the amendments, which suggested a possible adoption of the text, the presidential camp finally mobilized in extremis deputies of its camp for the final vote. A strategy that paid off, by one vote.

The LR deputies divided… but rather against
On the right of the majority, the Republican deputies were divided on the issue. The LR deputy Alexandre Portier argued that access to the 1 euro rate should be conditional on a commitment to “work two hours a week in the service of a local community”. In the final vote, four LR deputies abstained and seven voted against, including the party president, Eric Ciotti.

A large number of environmentalist MPs absent
Several absences were also very noticeable. Twelve of the 22 environmentalist deputies, allies of the socialists in the Nupes, did not take part in the vote in the chamber. The ten present all voted in favor. Several elected environmentalists were actually busy elsewhere, such as the president of the Green group in the Assembly, Cyrielle Chatelain, who participated with two other deputies in the launch of the general states of political ecology a few hundred meters from there.

Questioned on the subject, the leader of the socialist deputies relativized their absence: “The subject, it is not those who could vote for, but those who voted against. No false trial,” said Boris Vallaud. An LFI deputy interviewed on franceinfo was less tender: “It’s a shame, because there was an opportunity. We, we were almost full”.

The left and student associations disappointed
The result of the vote, even so close, is implacable and the text was therefore rejected by the National Assembly. “I am disappointed. With one vote, the universal meal at 1 euro was written into the law. But it is especially the students who will be disappointed today”, regretted the socialist rapporteur Fatiha Keloua Hachi. A disappointment shared by the first concerned. “As students, we feel completely wronged,” said Imane Ouelhadj, president of Unef, on franceinfo. We are disappointed and disgusted because we had a little hope.”