Affected by the sudden simultaneity of supply and demand shocks, French GDP shrank by 5.8% in the first quarter of 2020, a greater decline than after the 2008 financial crisis, which had caused a 1.6% drop in the first quarter of 2009. Although Insee has not published a forecast for the entirety of the year, in its budget amending act the government anticipates an 8% decrease in GDP, a public deficit of 7.6% and a public debt of 115% of GDP. For its part, in its growth forecasts of May 6, the European Commission announces a recession of 7.7% for the euro zone as a whole, with 9.5% for Spain, 9.4% for Italy, 8.2% for France, and 6.5% for Germany.
Public opinion quickly turned critical and challenging of the French government and the use of technology
As the end of lockdown is fast approaching in numerous countries, the French government remains judged much more severely than its European counterparts. At the beginning of May, only 24% of French people stated being "satisfied" with French President Emmanuel Macron. German Prime Minister Angela Merkel reached a 50% satisfaction rate, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a 48% approval rate, despite the recent worsening of the situation in the latter’s country. In France, there has been a movement of mistrust towards institutions, reflected in the level of trust in the government (which dropped from 55% on March 23 to 35% on April 23, before rising to 39% on May 4 and falling again to 34% on May 7). This relative disappointment should be tempered by the French health system’s excellent reputation in the eyes of the public. Economic measures are generally better accepted than more general measures, the acceptance rate of which eroded as the lockdown continued.
The use of technology to limit the Covid-19 epidemic is among the most hotly debated topics. In contrast to the more physical issues of masks and testing, the government tackled the possibility of using tracing and tracking instruments at a relatively early stage. Tracing is part of the numerous preventive measures used by Asian countries to manage disease outbreaks. For example, Singapore quickly implemented a coronavirus tracing system with the TraceTogether application. The French StopCovid application is scheduled for release on June 2. The development of the application triggered, both in France and elsewhere in Europe, a bitter debate on data privacy. The solution chosen by France is a so-called "centralized" system, i.e. anonymized data (each user is given a random identifier) are stored on a single server, and not on users' phones, as is the case with "decentralized" solutions, such as the one adopted by Germany or the ones developed by Apple and Google.