Macron imposes pension reform without the vote of deputies

Emmanuel Macron

“We cannot place bets on the future of our pensions,” said Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne who, fearing that she would not get the necessary legislative votes for the reform, activated article 49.3 of the Constitution in a chaotic session of the National Assembly.

The left-wing opposition deputies greeted with signs saying “64 years is no”, singing the Marseillaise, the national anthem, and shouting at Borne, forcing her to force her voice to announce the decision. The 100th activation since 1958 of this legal tool, but highly controversial in France, could intensify tension with the unions, which had called to prevent an unfair reform and organized massive protests for two months.

Macron wants to delay the retirement age from 62 to 64 years by 2030 and advance to 2027 the requirement to contribute 43 years (and not 42 as before) to collect a full pension. Two out of three French people are opposed, according to polls.

Threats from the far right

The only way to prevent its application now is for the deputies to present and approve a motion of censure against the government, which would be debated in the coming days. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen has already announced one.

The liberal daily L’Opinion had warned that the use of 49.3 “would reinforce the ‘brutality’ image of his power and fuel the social crisis.” Macron already faced a strong social protest with the “yellow vests” in his first term.

Beyond the project, the 45-year-old president, re-elected almost a year ago with the promise of reforming the second economy of the European Union (EU), played with that reform to be able to apply for his program during his second term.

“Forced” to activate 49.3 

With the go-ahead secured in the Senate, which approved it in the morning, the government made an effort to convince the handful of pro-government deputies and the “twenty” of their right-wing ally Los Republicanos (LR) still reticent. But without success. The fear of suffering a setback in the National Assembly, after a series of crisis meetings since Wednesday night, forced him to activate 49.3, despite running the risk of intensifying social protests.

More than 1,500 protesters went to the Assembly headquarters just after the announcement of the controversial mechanism, to calls from student organizations and shouting “Hey Manu Manu, 49.3 or not, we don’t want your reform!”, AFP confirmed.