Macron faces votes of no confidence amid protests over pension reform

Macron faces votes of no confidence amid protests over pension reform

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EEmmanuel Macron’s government will face two votes of confidence as early as Monday amid anger over the French president’s decision to sidestep lawmakers by pushing through his unpopular pension reform that will raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 years old.

If a motion of no confidence wins a majority of votes – an unlikely scenario – the pensions bill would be canceled and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne would have to resign. Macron would then have to appoint a new government, or he could dissolve the National Assembly and call a snap election.

Macron’s decision last week to use a constitutional provision to push through the reform has inflamed an already tense situation that has weighed on his popularity. Police arrested 169 people on Saturday night after protesters threw Molotov cocktails at security forces and set fire to piles of rubbish that had been piling up for two weeks in many cities as garbage collectors went on strike against the reform.

Learn more: Protests sweep France after pension reform imposed by Macron

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at the weekend that there would be no majority in parliament for no-confidence motions. “The people’s representatives will have their say in a sovereign way on Monday,” he told Le Parisien newspaper.

Further nationwide protests are scheduled for March 23, while smaller protests are still underway across France. Macron’s popularity has fallen to its lowest level since the days of anti-government Yellow Vest protests in early 2019, according to an Ifop survey for Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

The poll showed that 28% of those questioned said they were satisfied with Macron’s performance, down 4 points from a month ago, the JDD reported on Sunday.

While Article 49.3 is a legal tool that has been used many times, many have seen Macron’s decision as a reversal of the will of the people since the reform is rejected by an overwhelming majority of the population and has not got enough support in parliament.

Still, the baseline scenario is that the no-confidence motions will fail because it would require the support of every opposition lawmaker, combined with more than half of the 60 conservative Republicans in the National Assembly. Eric Ciotti, leader of the Republicans, said last week that his party would not support a vote of no confidence.

Legislative delays

The Macron government has defended the reform, saying it was necessary to stabilize the finances of the pension system. Without reform, the national pension deficit could swell to as much as 0.8% of annual economic output over the next decade, according to the country’s Pensions Advisory Council.

Even if Borne survives the no-confidence vote, the opposition would still have other options to derail the reform, such as seeking a review by the Constitutional Court or a public referendum, which could delay the passage of the bill for years. month.

Learn more: Macron faces a serious political struggle in France

And even if the legislation survives these obstacles, the dynamics at play show how difficult it will be for Macron to work with the National Assembly in the future.

This means that Macron’s national agenda – including migration and employment reform – may now be out of reach.

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