It is more than likely that the French Government will overcome the two motions of censure that will be voted on in the National Assembly tomorrow, Monday. Otherwise it would be a big surprise and almost a political cataclysm. But this victory will not mean turning the page on the serious crisis opened with the approval by decree, last Thursday, of the pension reform.
The fiasco of President Emmanuel Macron in managing the most symbolic initiative of his second term threatens to mortgage the more than four years that he still has left in the Elysée, until May 2027. Without a parliamentary majority, with the unions on the warpath and a palpable social unrest, the head of state runs the risk of running a country in a state of stagnation, and that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to promote any other ambitious project, such as the planned reforms of immigration, justice or of the institutions, as well as achieving progress in other areas such as the ecological transition, education or the revitalization of the labor market.
The current parliamentary arithmetic – with two very strong blocks of the radical left and the extreme right, both of a populist nature – represents a majority of rejection and blocking, although not a viable alternative for government. Macron's hope of winning over to his cause the Republicans (LR), the traditional right-wing party, heir to the successive denominations of Gaullism, has not come true. LR is a troop divided and at odds with each other, with moderate sectors and others that openly flirt with the extreme right.
The French press speculates on various scenarios to relaunch Macron's presidency. The most obvious would be a reshuffling of the Executive, and even the replacement of the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne. However, it is highly doubtful that this will provide sufficient relief. Everyone knows that if there is a person to blame for the failure, it is Macron himself. Another path, much more risky, would lead to the dissolution of the Assembly to try to get new elections to clarify the political panorama. Nothing would ensure success. On the contrary, Macron could find the opposite result: a slimmer majority and the strengthening of the extremes, especially the far-right National Rally of Marine Le Pen.
The mobilizations and strikes, meanwhile, continue. The general secretary of the CGT union, Philippe Martínez, recalled that when they asked Macron to receive them – a request ignored by the president – a few days ago, they warned him of the “explosive situation” if the reform was approved, a diagnosis that is being confirming. Even now the unions are demanding that the two-year delay in retirement age, the most contentious point, be waived. In its editorial yesterday, the Libération newspaper claimed the same thing.
The president has chosen silence, while his interior minister and the police try to deal with the continuous spontaneous protest demonstrations in many cities, and to protect threatened official and political headquarters. In Paris, people were prohibited from gathering in the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Élysées to avoid riots as on previous nights. There is no calm on the horizon.