After President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to approve a controversial pension reform without a vote in the National Assembly, the far-right French opposition announced – today, Thursday – that it will submit a motion of no confidence in the government.
Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate who will lead National Rally delegates in the 2022 presidential election, saw the decision as a “defeat” for President Macron and Prime Minister Elizabeth Born, who “cannot stay” in office.
According to sources close to the government, Macron chose to pass the controversial pension reform bill without a vote in the National Assembly. This caused discontent within the assembly at the start of the meeting, which was supposed to vote on the plan.
The bill will continue its parliamentary path with a vote in the House of Representatives this evening. Ahead of the vote, sources close to the government expressed fears that it would not be able to secure a majority in the House of Representatives to pass the bill.
Demonstrations and strikes
The plan has sparked protests and strikes in France and reached its final stage on Thursday as it was put to a vote by deputies. Macron’s decision to ratify it before the referendum clearly indicates that his team could not muster a majority in the National Assembly.
And the Senate — which has a majority for the coalition that supports the president — voted Thursday morning, with no surprises, in favor of reform that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.
Macron is betting much of his political capital on the plan, which represents his most important reform agenda of his second term as president.
The president met with the leaders of the camps that support him at the Elysee Palace on Thursday morning, and he had two options: either go to a referendum, which would result in an inconclusive result, or the government passes the bill without a referendum, based on the constitution. It allows it to do so.
Macron announced on Wednesday evening that he “must vote” on Thursday, and figures around him said “all parliamentarians must be mobilized with a sense of responsibility”. The plan requires the support of representatives of traditional right-wing parties that are not part of the government coalition.
A key member of parliament in the government’s majority conceded the referendum was “potential for defeat”, recognizing that the plan hinged on a handful of votes and that the government and opposition were engaged in feverish calculations.
Since January 19, thousands of French people have demonstrated on 8 occasions to reject the reform, and strikes have been organized in several sectors, including the sanitation sector in Paris, resulting in littering of French sidewalks. The capital is one of the most important tourist cities in the world.
Government justifications and popular rejection
Opponents of the reform believe the text is “unfair”, especially to women and workers in hard-working jobs. Various polls suggest that most French people reject him.
The French government chose to raise the legal retirement age in response to the financial collapse of pension funds and an aging population.
The retirement age in France is one of the lowest in other European countries, and the draft law provides for a gradual increase of the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 years by 3 months each year, beginning in September 2023 and ending in 2030.
It also provides for increasing the required social security contribution period from 42 to 43 years so that the retiree can receive his full retirement pension, i.e. without any deduction.
The government hopes the amendment will ensure the funding of the social security system, one of the pillars of the French social model.
The French government had little to do with the strikes and days of mobilization, and as the opposition tried to slow down the plan debates, it used rarely used constitutional provisions to speed up debate in parliament.
On Wednesday evening, the unions called for “Members of Parliament to officially vote against the bill” to reform the pension system, and “this rejection (…) would be in line with the public will widely expressed in the public debate. .”
More than 1.5 million people protested in France on Wednesday, according to unions, with the interior ministry putting the number at 480,000. Strikes in several key sectors (transport, electricity) continued on Wednesday against the pension reform. and gas and others).
Garbage piled up in the capital on Wednesday, the tenth day of a strike by cleaners in some districts of Paris.
According to the city’s municipal council, around 7,600 tonnes of waste is collected on footpaths. In light of the poor sanitary conditions in the capital of world tourism, Paris police officer Laurent Nunes announced the decision to force workers to pick up trash.
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