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Pension reform in France | The government targeted by two motions of censure



(Paris) Two motions of censure were tabled on Friday against the French government, in the midst of a political crisis the day after its forced passage on the pension reform, which amplified social anger and triggered unrest in several regions.

What there is to know

  • The pension reform in France plans to raise the eligibility age from 62 to 64 in response to the financial deterioration of pension funds and the aging of the population;
  • France is one of the European countries where the legal retirement age is the lowest;
  • Since January 19, hundreds of thousands of French people have demonstrated against this reform, against a backdrop of renewable strikes;
  • On March 16, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne had recourse to Article 49.3 of the Constitution to adopt the pension reform project without a vote;
  • Two motions of censure were tabled by the opposition;
  • Thursday evening, a spontaneous demonstration of a few thousand people degenerated around the Place de la Concorde. Three hundred people were arrested;
  • In Paris, the garbage cans that are not picked up by the garbage collectors on strike continue to pile up;
  • At the ports of Calais and Marseille, it is “dead ports” day.

The deputies of the small centrist independent parliamentary group LIOT announced before the deputies the tabling of a “transpartisan” motion of censure of the government, co-signed by elected representatives of the radical left (NUPES).

The National Rally (extreme right) of Marine Le Pen also tabled a motion of censure on Friday, castigating a pension reform “unfair and unnecessary”.

These procedures are responses to President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to resort on Thursday to the weapon of article 49.3, provided for in the French Constitution – allowing the adoption of a text without a vote in the National Assembly, unless a motion of censure came to overthrow the government – ​​on this very unpopular pension reform, against which many French people have mobilized since January 19.

The decision to trigger 49.3 “is the apogee of a denial of democracy that is unacceptable in its consistency and its contempt for our institutions and our social bodies”, is it notably written in the text of Liot’s motion.

The government of Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne is on hot coals in the face of the tabling of these motions of censure.


Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne

That of LIOT is the one that could potentially cause the most problems for the executive because of its transpartisan side.

To bring down the government, a motion of censure will have to collect an absolute majority in the Assembly, ie 287 votes.

This would require in particular that around thirty right-wing deputies Les Républicains (out of 61) bring theirs during the vote on the motion of the LIOT group, in addition to filling up with other opponents, an unlikely hypothesis.

The French government has chosen to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 in response to the financial deterioration of pension funds and the aging of the population.

France is one of the European countries where the legal retirement age is the lowest, without the pension systems being completely comparable.

Setback for Macron

This measure of the decline in the legal retirement age crystallizes the anger, against the backdrop of renewable strikes. And various opinion polls show that the French are mostly hostile to it, even if the number of demonstrators in the streets and strikers is stagnating or declining.

The use of 49.3, which upset some parliamentarians but also French people who took to the streets on Thursday evening, is almost unanimously considered a setback for Emmanuel Macron, who has bet a lot of his political credit on this key reform of his second five-year term.

“Pension crisis: his fault”, headlined the newspaper Release (left) with a portrait of Emmanuel Macron in the background.

The unions gathered in inter-union called for “proximity union rallies this weekend” and for a ninth “big day of strikes and demonstrations” on Thursday March 23.

Union officials fear that the social movement will overwhelm the centrals.


Demonstrations at Place de la Concorde, Thursday evening

In Paris as in the provinces, more or less spontaneous demonstrations were punctuated Thursday evening with overflows, with vandalized street furniture, burnt bins, broken windows and, in Dijon (East), effigies of President Macron and several ministers burned before the eyes of trade unionists.

In the storm, the ministers stand up. “We are destined to continue to govern,” said government spokesman Olivier Véran.

10,000 tonnes of uncollected waste in Paris

The bar of 10,000 tons of waste not collected in the streets of Paris was reached Friday at midday, according to the estimate of the town hall, at 12e day of the garbage collectors’ strike against the pension reform in France.

The entourage of the socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo of the French capital affirms that “no dumpster has come out” in the districts where collection is provided by municipal agents, while the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin affirms of his side that the requisition of the agents “works and makes it possible to collect these garbage cans”.

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