(Paris) The Senate, the upper house of the French Parliament, adopted on Saturday after ten days of clashing debates the disputed pension reform, President Emmanuel Macron’s flagship project which sparked weeks of strikes and demonstrations.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne did not hide her satisfaction after this first real legislative success, at the start of a decisive week when the government hopes to see this reform definitively adopted after a chaotic parliamentary course.
“An important step has been taken,” she immediately welcomed in a statement to AFP, convinced that “there is a majority” in Parliament to adopt the reform.
Because the flagship project of Emmanuel Macron’s second term has not completed its legislative journey. A crucial vote probably awaits him Thursday in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.
The Senate completed its race against the clock on Saturday evening with a day ahead of the deadline set for midnight Sunday, under the article of the Constitution to which the government has resorted to limit the time of legislative debates.
“Finally, here we are! “exclaimed Bruno Retailleau, the leader of the senators of the Les Républicains party (right), who asked the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt to send a message to President Emmanuel Macron:” we are voting for the reform, but we are not voting (for him “.
On the left, Senator Monique Lubin, castigated a “brutal” reform. “It’s a black day for all employees in this country,” she lamented.
“Strike of Strength”
As the Senate concluded its review of the reform, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in a seventh day of action against the reform and its extension of the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 .
The Ministry of the Interior counted 368,000 demonstrators in France, including 48,000 in Paris, less than February 16, the day that has mobilized the least since the start of the protest on January 19.
Figures significantly down from Tuesday, when 1.28 million people took to the streets in France, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
For its part, the CGT union estimated that more than a million people demonstrated on Saturday. This is the lowest figure put forward by the central trade union since the beginning of the social movement, lower than the 1.3 million demonstrators of February 16.
The French are, according to polls, mostly hostile to this reform, judging it “unfair”, especially for women and employees in difficult jobs.
The French president plays an important part of his political credit on this flagship measure of his second five-year term, symbol of his declared desire to reform the state, but which crystallizes the discontent of part of the French against him.
In February, the avalanche of amendments tabled by the left alliance (Nupes) had prevented the Assembly from deciding on this reform, which was contested on all sides, without even managing to examine article 7 at the heart of the project, providing raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.
In the Senate, where the radical left party La France insoumise (LFI) has no elected representatives, the debates were more stormy than expected. In order to speed up discussions that dragged on, the Minister of Labor had drawn article 44.3 of the Constitution, which allows a single vote on the entire text without putting to the vote the amendments to which the government is unfavorable.
It is now the turn of the Joint Joint Committee (CMP) to enter the scene, with the objective of reaching a compromise on the measures that the Assembly and the Senate did not vote in the same terms. The presidential camp and the right seem to have control over this commission.
On Friday, Mr Macron said the pension reform must go its “end” in Parliament, hinting he was not ruling out anything, including resorting to adoption without a vote via Article 49.3 of the Constitution.
After ten 49.3 on the budget this fall, the government would like to spare itself the use of this constitutional weapon which allows a text to be passed without a vote, but which the opposition denounces as a “coup of force”.
If necessary, the oppositions would retaliate with “motions of censure”, in an attempt to bring down the government. Only one motion was successful under the Ve Republic, October 5, 1962, overthrowing the government of Prime Minister Georges Pompidou.