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the Senate approves pension reform and the decision remains in the hands of the Assembly

First modification:

Despite the wave of protests, the French Senate, where the right has a majority, approved on March 16 the final text of the pension reform, which seeks to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64 years. However, the adoption of the measure now depends on the National Assembly, where the ruling party faces difficulties in gathering the necessary votes. Uncertainty continues as thousands rage in the streets in rejection of the unpopular amendment.

Defining moment in France. The Senate approved this Thursday, March 16, the final text of the pension reform and the final decision remains in the hands of the National Assembly, the Lower House of Parliament, with a vote in the next few hours.

With 193 votes in favor and 112 against, the controversial measure, which seeks to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64, passed the first major legislative instance.

Two more senators than expected spoke out in rejection of the rule. However, the government of President Emmanuel Macron has a majority in the Upper House that gave support to his flagship project, with which he promises to reform the second largest economy in the European Union.

But the acid test will be in the Lower House. The compromise text, decided on Wednesday March 15 in a joint commission, will be put to a vote in the next few hours in that legislative body where the ruling party has no guarantee that it will be approved.

“We are determined to build that majority. This is the objective and the commitment for the next few hours,” said the Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, after the vote in the Senate.

Dussopt’s optimism contrasts with the position of many of the deputies of the National Assembly.

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After Macron’s centrist alliance lost its majority in the 2022 legislative elections, the ruling party even needs the support of the opposition Republican Party (LR) to carry out his project.

Within the LR there are divisions for and against the measure and left-wing and far-right legislators are firmly opposed to the bill with which the Government hopes to progressively delay the age to qualify for a pension until 2030 , when the 64-year limit for retirement would finally take effect.

The modification also seeks to advance to 2027 the requirement to contribute 43 years to obtain a pension, and not 42 years as is the case up to now.

It would also abolish retirement privileges enjoyed by some public sector employees, such as Paris Metro workers.

Would the eventual rejection of the reform lead to the dissolution of the Lower House?

This is a possible scenario in the event that the Government does not achieve the necessary votes to approve the measure in the National Assembly.

Beyond the pension reform, President Macron, re-elected last year, is risking the possibility of applying an essential part of his government program with which he promised to reactivate the country’s economy during his second term.

The head of state even threatened to dissolve the lower house if the measure was not approved.

To do this, the Executive would activate article 49.3 of the Constitution, a controversial resource with which it could endorse the norm above the votes in the Legislative.

But the move is risky. Parliamentarians could stop this procedure if they approve a motion of no confidence against the Administration, which, given the current composition of the French Parliament, the Government could lose.

A general view shows the chamber as Mathilde Panot, deputy and chair of the parliamentary group of the French far-left party La France Insoumise (Incredulous France), delivers a speech during a debate on a motion of no confidence against the French government presented by the parties of the opposition, at the National Assembly in Paris, France, on July 11, 2022.
A general view shows the chamber as Mathilde Panot, deputy and chair of the parliamentary group of the French far-left party La France Insoumise (Incredulous France), delivers a speech during a debate on a motion of no confidence against the French government presented by the parties of the opposition, at the National Assembly in Paris, France, on July 11, 2022. © Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

In a meeting that the president held with Prime Minister √Člisabeth Borne and several ministers on Wednesday on the eve of the momentous vote, Macron said he would close the lower house and call new legislative elections.

If a positive result is achieved, the president would obtain a parliamentary majority and form a new government, which would broaden the range of support to get his projects afloat.

However, a no vote would mark Macron’s biggest failure since he first became president in 2017 and bode ill for the rest of his current five-year term in office.

Another possible scenario would be the recognition of the setback of the reform, a situation in which Borne would assume responsibility and present his resignation.

That would be a victory for political opponents on the left and far right, as well as for the unions and protesters who have protested for months to stop the amendment.

But if approved, Macron would take a forceful step to fulfill his campaign promises, albeit at the high cost of social nonconformity.

Two out of three French people oppose this change, according to various polls.

With Reuters and AFP

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Written by Editor TLN

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