France: debates on pension reform end in confusion

France: pension reform debates end in confusion


The French National Assembly concluded Friday at midnight, without a vote and in confusion, the examination at first reading of a pension reform project against which unions and the opposition are upwind, the examination of the text must now continue in the Senate. 

The deputies then largely rejected a motion of censure tabled by the far-right National Rally (RN) party.

Flagship measure of the predict Emmanuel Macron's second five-year term, the pension reform is contested by both left and right opposition and has already provoked five days of strikes and demonstrations across the country.

It also causes friction within the presidential majority itself, which requires the support of parliamentarians The Republicans (LR, right) to have the text adopted.

In Parliament, this reform has given rise to nearly nine days of epic debates, between points of order and session suspensions, on the question of the financing of the system. Several thousand amendments had been tabled by the left.

The debate ended at the time provided for by the Constitution, at midnight sharp.

“Denial of democracy”

In the preamble to the motion of censure presented by her party, the head of the RN Marine Le Pen denounced “a project (…) badly carried out and badly explained”, as well as a “denial of democracy” by the government.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne responded to him by pointing out that the pension debate had shown the faces of “two populisms”, those of the far right and the radical left.

Responsible for defending the text, the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt, the hoarse voice, indicated that “the government will seize (it) the Senate of the text which it initially presented, modified by the amendments voted” by the Assembly. /p>

“You insulted me for 15 days”, he launched, furious, to the deputies of insubordinate France (LFI, radical left), leaving the hemicycle.

“Macron in check in the Assembly. Retirement at 64 has not passed”, reacted even before the end of the debates the leader of LFI Jean-Luc Mélenchon in a blog post. “This reform has no parliamentary legitimacy,” the group's president, Mathilde Panot, told reporters.

Unsurprisingly given the number of amendments still to be examined and the deadline set at midnight, the debates broke off very far from article 7 on raising the legal age to 64, the most controversial.

Throughout the evening, the discussion focused on the contribution period for retirees who can benefit from the “long career” scheme, that is to say those who entered the world of work before the age of 21. Forty-three or 44? The question has not been clearly resolved.

Some of the LR deputies demand that all workers who started before this age can retire after 43 years of contributions, without the legal age not be a barrier.

“Sorrowful spectacle”

The parliamentary left was divided on the strategy to adopt, environmentalists regretting to AFP “a strategic failure” in the choice of the radical left to multiply the amendments.

“The National Assembly gives a sorry spectacle, in defiance of the workers. Shameful”, reacted in the evening the secretary general of the reforming union CFDT, Laurent Berger.

The latest demonstrations gathered Thursday 1.3 million people according to the CGT union and 440,000 according to the Ministry of l 'Interior.

This is the lowest figure since the start of the mobilization, pending March 7 when the unions threaten to bring the country “to a halt” if the government does not not withdraw the reform.

The CGT called on Friday for a renewable strike in the refineries from Monday March 6.

The Senate will take up the text on March 2. “It's going to be sport,” said an elected member of the presidential party group.

“The issue is who will impose his story,” he added, as it seems difficult to say who from the government or the opposition emerges stronger from this first parliamentary round.