Pension reform: French government gets two no-confidence votes

Union activists block access to TotalEnergies refinery terminal, March 17, 2023. Loic Venance/AFP

On Friday, two votes of no confidence were introduced in the French government, which plunged into a political crisis the day after the entry into force of the pension reform, which increased public discontent and caused unrest in several regions of the country.

Deputies of the Lyot centrist independent parliamentary group announced to the National Assembly a “trans-party” vote of no confidence in the government, signed by elected members of the Nupes (radical left).

The national rally (far right) also moved a vote of no confidence on Friday condemning the “unfair and unnecessary reform”.

The moves are in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s decision on Thursday to resort to the weapon of Article 49.3 of the Constitution, allowing the text to be passed without a vote in the Assembly, unless there is a vote of no confidence to overthrow the government. against this highly unpopular pension reform, which many French people have opposed since 19 January.

The decision to activate 49.3 “is the apogee of a denial of democracy, an unacceptable coherence and disdain for our institutions and our social organs,” is prominently written in the text of Lyot’s proposal.

Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne’s government is on hot coals in the face of these votes of no confidence.

Lyot is the one that could potentially cause the most problems for the government due to its trans-partisan side.

Accumulation of failures

To overthrow the government, a vote of no confidence must collect an absolute majority in the Assembly, that is, 287 votes. This would require, in particular, that about thirty right-wing deputies of Les Républicains (out of 61) present their votes during the vote on the proposal of the Lyot group, in addition to being filled by other opponents, which seems unlikely.

The French government has decided to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 in response to the deteriorating financial health of pension funds and an aging population. France is one of the European countries where the legal retirement age is the lowest, and pension systems cannot be fully comparable.

This measure of lowering the statutory retirement age crystallizes anger amid renewed strikes. Various opinion polls show that the French are generally hostile to him, even if the number of demonstrators in the streets and strikers has not changed or decreased over time.

The use of 49.3, which upset some parliamentarians as well as the French who spontaneously took to the streets on Thursday night, is almost unanimously seen as a setback for Emmanuel Macron, who has staked much of his political credit on this key reform. five year term.

“The pension crisis: his fault,” headlined the Liberation newspaper (left), with a portrait of Emmanuel Macron in the background.

According to Bernard Sananes of the Elabe Institute, “it’s too early to talk about the failure of the five-year term.” “But it is certain that the government has accumulated setbacks and underestimated the difficulties in a country where the climate is very tense; there is a break with public opinion,” he said.

Fear of overflow

The Intersyndicale called for “local union rallies this weekend” and a ninth “big day of strikes and demonstrations on Thursday 23 March”. In a separate press release, the powerful union CGT called for “increased mobilization and strikes”.

Trade union officials do not hide their fear that the social movement will overwhelm the central organs.

“Yes, we are afraid” that it will overflow, said CFTC President Cyril Chabanier. “We wrote in our inter-union letter that after a while, when they don’t listen to us and switch to 49.3, it will be increased anger and that there are risks of a social explosion,” he recalled.

In Paris, as in the provinces, more or less spontaneous demonstrations were interspersed Thursday evening with floods, destroyed street furniture, burned garbage cans, broken windows, and in Dijon (east), effigies of President Macron and several ministers were burned in front of merchants. unionists.

The acute fallout from renewed strikes among garbage collectors who are protesting a two-year postponement of retirement from their painful profession has worsened the health situation in Paris, the world capital of tourism, with a 10,000-tonne mark of uncollected waste hit on Friday at noon on the twelfth the day her garbage collectors went on strike.

Blocking the ring road of Paris, Gare Toulon (South) or Bordeaux (South-West), demonstrations …: after rallies of several thousand “rebellious” demonstrators on Thursday, opponents of the reform sporadically resumed the fight on Friday, most often at the initiative of the CGT.

Meanwhile, the ministers stand up. “We have a calling to continue to govern,” said government spokesman Olivier Veran.

Source: AFP.

Source: L Orient Le Jour

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