France: Macron pushes through pension reform without vote

Status: 03/16/2023 4:42 p.m

After weeks of protests, the National Assembly is due to decide on the planned pension reform today. But the government decided to pass it through parliament – and thus accepted a vote of no confidence.

France’s government pushed the controversial pension reform through parliament without a final vote. She decided to implement President Emmanuel Macron’s most important reform project with a special article in the constitution without a vote in the National Assembly. This means that President Macron’s most important legislative project has been accepted. However, it is to be feared that opponents of the reform will file a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s government.

Sabine Rau, ARD Paris, on reactions to Macron’s enforcement of the controversial pension reform by decree

Tagesschau 4:00 p.m., 16.3.2023

The opposition criticized Macron’s actions as “brutal”. Borne defended the reform and the use of constitutional paragraph 49.3 in the session – and was booed for it. Accompanied by loud protests from the opposition, she said: “This reform is necessary.”

Session interrupted right at the beginning

The session started so turbulently that it had to be interrupted for two minutes shortly after it started. To make himself heard, Borne almost had to shout into the microphone. She attacked both the left and the right, including Marine Le Pen’s main right-wing extremist opposition party, which operated in the background. The applause of their own camp was almost lost.

She leads the dialogue with the social partners, according to Borne. But one cannot take the risk that in the end there will be a lack of votes to reform the pension system and to push through the compromise that the parliamentary mediation committee has found.

The left-wing opposition left the hall after Borne’s announcement that Article 49.3 of the constitution would apply. Borne said she was taking responsibility and was now awaiting the votes of no confidence. These have already been announced across party lines. They can be submitted for 24 hours – until Friday at 3:20 p.m. Even if they don’t bring down the government, France’s democracy has to endure an endurance test.

Macron’s alliance without a majority in the National Assembly

The final text of the law should actually pass both chambers of parliament today. The law had already been passed in the Senate. However, it was not taken for granted that the government would get the necessary majority for the reform in the National Assembly in the afternoon, which is intended to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Macron’s alliance does not have a majority there and is dependent on votes from conservatives. Left and right MPs are clearly against the bill.

Macron and his prime minister have repeatedly emphasized that they want to bring the law to a vote. Applying Article 49.3 to such a key social reform is, in the eyes of many French people, inappropriate and would seriously damage the government’s image.

With information from Julia Borutta and Stefanie Markert, ARD Studio Paris

Booing for Prime Minister Borne: Pension reform passed without a vote with Article 49.3

Stefanie Markert, ARD Paris, March 16, 2023 3:45 p.m

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