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French opposition wins right to seek referendum on airports sale

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French opposition wins right to seek referendum on airports sale

Referendum

Left-wing and right-wing lawmakers both opposed plans by President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government to privatise Aeroports de Paris, which manages Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports.

They will have to gather just over 4.7 million online signatures from voters, within a nine-month period, in order for the referendum to take place.

The National Assembly, where Macron’s centrist party and allies have a large majority, approved the privatisation in April, overruling the opposition-dominated Senate.

If the opposition gain the necessary signatures, it would be the first time a “joint initiative referendum’’ takes place under a 2008 amendment to the French constitution.

Macron has said he wants to make the referendum process easier and allow citizens as well as lawmakers to initiate one, in a partial response to demands by the Yellow Vest protest movement for more use of referendums.

Aeroports de Paris, which now trades as Paris Aeroports, is currently 50.6 per cent government-owned.

Past privatisations of transport infrastructure in France have been controversial, notably than most of the country’s motorway network in 2006.

Multiple Yellow Vest protests took place at motorway tollbooths, with the operators effectively forced to let drivers through free of charge in some cases.

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