’Weakened’ Macron sticks with pension bill, eyes new reforms

’Weakened’ Macron sticks with pension bill, eyes new reforms
Опубликовано: Thursday, 23 March 2023 10:01

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to regain control of the initiative through new reforms. His government was unable to survive a no confidence motion over a controversial pension bill. National protests continued.
Last Thursday (16 March), as labour unions prepared for another day of strikes against Macron’s reform of his pension, demonstrators waving flags and shouting gathered in central Paris. This was the sixth consecutive day protests since the passage of the bill.

Garbage bins were set ablaze in central Paris’ Place de la Republique at 2030 CET/1930 GMT. Protesters also set off fireworks. The police were called to disperse the demonstrators and arrived with fire engines to extinguish the flames.

Macron’s camp has warned him to stop doing business as usual amid violent protests, rolling strikes and that pose the greatest threat to his authority since the ‘Yellow Vest’ revolt four years back.

"We are all weak. Gilles Le Gendre (senior MP in Macron’s camp), told Liberation newspaper that the president, the government, and the majority were all weak. "We can’t do business as usual because of the law that was passed."

Patrick Vignal (another member of Macron’s camp) bluntly asked the president to suspend his pension reform bill. This will increase the retirement age by 2 years to 64. Given the anger generated and its deep unpopularity,

However, Macron has not ruled out the possibility of withdrawing the pension law and does not intend to reshuffle, hold snap elections, or make major changes. This was confirmed by a source who spoke at meetings between Macron and key allies.

According to a source, he will instead use Wednesday’s TV interview to "calm down" and plan reforms for his remaining mandate.

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NO U-TURN

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne spoke to parliament. Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt made it clear that the government will not alter its stance.

Borne stated that the administration will try to improve citizen and union participation in lawmaking in the future, but she didn’t give any specifics and said both they had spent as much time as possible to dialogue about the pension bill.

"What we expect of the President of the Republic... that he draws out an outlook...a three-, 6-month calendar (of Reforms)", Sacha Houlie, a Macron MP, said. He hoped for proposals on issues such as how businesses could be pushed more of their profits with workers.

Oliver Faure, chief of the Socialist Party, told the government that it was "playing in fire."

Others opposition MPs called on Macron to fire Borne and call for snap elections. They also urged Macron not to hold a referendum over the pension bill due to widespread anger.

The NUPES coalition, left-leaning and far-right Rassemblement National requested that the Constitutional Council determine whether the reform and its adoption violate the constitution.

WHAT’S NEXT?

According to polls, a large majority of French oppose the reform to their pensions.

"I believe this was a denial of democracy . Jean Regnaud, a script writer, stated that the government passed a law against which a majority French people opposed.

Laurent Nunez, chief of Paris police, said that an investigation would be launched after video footage showing a police officer punching protester went viral.

Another sign of anger was the escalating violence at an ExxonMobil’s Fos-sur-Mer depot. The government attempted to restore order to striking workers by taking steps to stop them from rioting. The entire site was covered in tear gas and some protestors hurled objects at police officers.

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