The French government of the liberal president Emmanuel Macron He chose this Thursday to adopt his unpopular pension reform without submitting it to the vote of the deputies, after failing in his attempt to secure the necessary majority.
The final activation of controversial article 49.3 of the Constitutiona highly controversial legal tool in France, could intensify tension with the unions, which on Thursday had called to prevent this reform and which have already organized massive protests for two months.
Macron has chosen to resort to 49.3 and the Council of Ministers gave its approvalindicated executive sources, minutes before the start of the session of the National Assembly (lower house) that was to rule on the reform.
The Prime Minister Élisabeth Bornewas in charge of announcing the activation of said mechanism that would imply the definitive adoption of the reform, if the deputies fail to approve a motion of censure against the government, but deputies tried to boycott the measure.
As legislators met in the National Assembly to vote on the bill, the left-wing deputies broke into singing the Marseillaise, the French national anthem, preventing Borne from speaking, and causing the spokesman to temporarily suspend the session.
The atmosphere was tense outside parliament as heavily armed guards and riot police surrounded the picturesque neighborhoods around the National Assembly.
Macron wants Delay the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 and advance the requirement to contribute 43 years to 2027 (and not 42 as up to now) to collect a full pension. Two out of three French people are opposed, according to polls.
The Senate had begun this key day for the rest of Macron’s term, which runs until 2027, with the adoption of the reform thanks to the votes of the ruling party and the right-wing opposition of Los Republicanos (LR), which controls the upper house. .
But beyond the project, the 45-year-old president, re-elected almost a year ago with the promise of reforming the second largest economy in the European Union (EU), is risking being able to apply his program during his second term and threatened to dissolve the Assembly in case of setback.
Macron’s alliance lost its parliamentary majority last year, forcing the government to rely on conservative lawmakers to pass the bill. Lawmakers on the left and far right are strongly opposed and conservatives are divided, making the outcome unpredictable.
Since Wednesday night, he had multiplied the crisis meetings with the government and pro-government groups to ensure that there was a majority, which would avoid activating the controversial parliamentary procedure.
But its mere activation is considered a failure by observers.. In the opinion of the liberal newspaper L’Opinion, resort to article 49.3 “would reinforce the image of ‘brutality’ of his power and would fuel the social crisis”.
Several deputies have already announced the presentation of motions of censure to bring down the government and the reform. Since he came to power in May, Borne has faced a dozen of them, which have not come to fruition.
Nearly 500,000 people protested across the country on Wednesday against the bill.
“March on Paris”
Waiting to see if it will finally be activated, all eyes are on a handful of pro-government deputies who could abstain and on “some twenty” LR legislators who, according to right-wing senator Bruno Retailleau, would vote against.
The unions “solemnly” called on parliamentarians to vote against an “unfair” reform and against which between 1.28 million and 3.5 million people demonstrated on March 7, in the largest protest against social reform in three decades.
However, the answer seems to fall, as the The French recognize that this law will end up being applied. And the extendable strikes launched last week in key sectors such as energy and transport are also continuing, albeit with less force.
The government also ordered the requisition of municipal garbage collection personnel in Paris to remove the 7,600 tons accumulated in the capital, at the end of a fight with Mayor Anne Hidalgo who supports the strikers.
But the opponents do not throw in the towel. “I call on all those who oppose this reform to march on Paris (…) Do not let them steal two years of your life,” leftist MP Thomas Portes tweeted on Wednesday.
The main union leaders will meet again after the parliamentary process to analyze the next steps.
If the reform is adopted, the leftist opposition is preparing an appeal before the Constitutional Council that would delay its promulgation and give opponents time to use their last cartridges, such as calling for a referendum.
(With information from AFP and AP)
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