The French Parliament takes the final decision on pensions today

Emmanuel Macron's second term at the Elysée will have a decisive day today.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
15 March 2023 Wednesday 23:56
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The French Parliament takes the final decision on pensions today

Emmanuel Macron's second term at the Elysée will have a decisive day today. The pension reform, which envisages delaying the legal retirement age by two years – from 62 to 64 – is coming to the French Parliament for the final vote. The suspense about the result remains until the end. If the project is approved, it will probably be by a very narrow majority.

In recent days, both the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, and other members of the Government have called by phone - and probably called again last night - to deputies from the Republicans party (LR, traditional right) who still have doubts about their vote. The 60 L R members in the National Assembly hold the key to whether or not to approve the reform, as Macron's supporters narrowly lost their absolute majority in legislative elections held in June.

The joint joint commission between the Senate and the National Assembly - composed of 14 members - met yesterday and approved a common text. This final version must be voted on today in both chambers: in the morning, the senators; in the afternoon, the deputies.

The calculation for the Government is risky. It is clear that the project will have the green light of the majority of the Senate (it already obtained it on Friday in a first vote). In the National Assembly it is different. It is difficult to guess exactly how many upvotes he has. Some L R deputies say they have received offers of investments in their constituencies if they support the reform. Uncertainty is great because there could be last-minute changes of opinion or unplanned absences. A number of MPs from Macron's party refuse to vote for the reform.

Before the Assembly meets, the Government could, in theory, activate article 49.3 of the Constitution, which would allow the reform to be approved by decree. But it would be an exceptional procedure that would demonstrate his political weakness. The automatic response would be one or several motions of censure from the opposition. The Government could fall. Macron has warned that, in this case, he would not appoint a new Executive, but would dissolve the Assembly and call new elections, a very risky maneuver for the Head of State and that would plunge the country into a serious crisis of instability in a very delicate economic context and with a war in Europe.

After the Council of Ministers, the spokesman of the Government, Olivier Véran, said that they are still looking for "a natural majority" in favor of the reform. In a message addressed to L R, he insisted that voting for the project is not giving a blank check. "It is not a vote of accession; it's a vote of responsibility", emphasized Véran. The spokesperson mentioned other future projects, such as the reform of immigration legislation or the institutional reform (of the electoral system, the number of regions, changes to the Constitution, etc.). It is clear that Macron wants to turn the page on the issue of pensions, which has been a nightmare, and open other debates.

Monitoring of strikes and demonstrations was clearly on the decline. It is not possible to maintain the pressure so continuously, but the union leaders are ready to continue the fight, even if the reform is enacted.

The vindictive movement that is the most talked about is the strike of the scavengers, in Paris, Nantes, Le Havre, Montpellier and other cities. The situation in the capital is the most controversial because the strikers have the explicit support of the mayor, the socialist Anne Hidalgo. She considers it legitimate that the scavengers have stopped working and believes that Parisians and visitors must accept the discomfort of living with mountains of dirt in the streets and more rats than ever. According to the mayor, the Government is to blame for not bowing down to the opponents of the reform.

Some criticism is fierce against Hidalgo. The mayor has been unpopular for some time - she only got 1.75% of the vote in the first round of the presidential elections - due to the gigantic municipal debt, the administrative hypertrophy, the dirt in the streets and the controversial decisions on mobility, always hostile to the private vehicle His choice to support a strike that turns the streets of Paris into a dumping ground has further angered his detractors. The Government is considering exceptional measures to force garbage to be collected and there is even talk of using the army.