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French President Macron overrides parliament to pass retirement age bill

WorldEuropeFrench President Macron overrides parliament to pass retirement age bill
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Members of Parliament from the left-wing coalition NUPES (New People’s Ecological and Social Union) hold placards during a speech by French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne (C) as she confirmed the government will push through its controversial pension reforms without a vote in the National Assembly Will pass On March 16, 2023.

Alain Jocard | AFP | Getty Images

french president Emmanuel Macron on Thursday invoked special constitutional powers to push his plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 through the lower house of parliament.

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The pension overhaul has been greeted with widespread protests and strikes across France, with the issue seen as extremely controversial in the European nation of 68 million people.

The plans passed France’s Senate on Thursday morning, but were due for a vote in the National Assembly (the lower house), where its approval is not guaranteed.

Instead, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced in the Assembly that the government would invoke Article 49.3 of the French Constitution.

Reuters reported that MPs opposing the reforms chanted “resign”, chanted slogans and “resign”. At one point the session was adjourned for two minutes because the politicians sang the national anthem too loudly for her to hear.

Macron’s Renaissance party argues that reform of the pension system is necessary to make it last longer into the future. According to France’s Pension Advisory Council, there is an estimated annual loss of 10 billion euros ($10.73 billion) each year between 2022 and 2032.

However, opinion polls suggest A majority of the public supported industrial action to oppose the changes, which include requiring workers to contribute to the system for 43 years to qualify for a full pension.

Strikes have occurred since the beginning of the year and have intensified in the past week, affecting transport, schools, oil refineries, the public sector and beyond. The action has resulted in garbage piling up in parts of Paris.

Household waste containers and dustbins continue to pile up on the pavements of the streets of Paris on 14 March 2023 as waste collectors go on strike against the French government’s pension reform bill on 6 March 2023.

NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Opposition leaders are now likely to request a motion of no confidence in the government, which they will have to do by 3 pm on Friday. Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Rally and left-wing France Unbowed (La France Insoumis) have both said they will do so.

However, a majority of lawmakers are unlikely to vote to dissolve the National Assembly and hold new elections, Renaud Foucault, a senior lecturer in economics at Lancaster University, told CNBC by phone.

The measure would then go to the Constitutional Court and most likely become law.

Foucault said the government is eyeing the next national election, when Macron will not run. The move means that “overall responsibility” for the reforms rests with them, not individual MPs who vote in favor of them.

Foucault said the move was seen as particularly controversial because many of the people retiring at age 62 were manual workers or people who started work at a young age.

resorting to [Article] 49.3 The government shows that it does not have the majority to approve a two-year postponement of the legal retirement age,” Laurent Berger, general secretary of the CFDT union, Said on Twitter. “Political compromise failed. Workers should be heard when their work is being processed.”

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Read more about CNBC’s politics coverage:

Unions including the CFDT said they would continue to “mobilise” to oppose the reforms and would meet on Thursday night to discuss next steps.

Macron’s centrist coalition lost its parliamentary majority in the June 2022 elections. His government has already survived a vote of no confidence since then, because it exercised special constitutional powers. pass the budget of 2023 In National Assembly.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told CNBC in February that reform was a “necessity” to ensure fiscal balance by 2030. And he was confident that he would get a majority in Parliament.

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