Analysis | Pensions in France: President Macron made a bet, but at what cost?
By imposing its pension reform without the vote of the deputies, the French government has fueled tensions in the National Assembly, as in the streets of France.
President Macron faces opposition in public and political ranks.
Friday morning in front of the Lyon-Part-Dieu station, a small group of demonstrators from the rail sector took stock of the form that the mobilization should take.
For Denis, who works at the station, there is no doubt that the government's decision to impose its bill has revived the fervor of opponents of the pension reform.
We saw the generalized conflagration, even in the smallest towns, he tells us, in reference to the first peaceful demonstrations all over the country on Thursday evening, which also gave rise to overflows in certain cities of France, including Paris and Lyon.
Like others in the trade union world, Denis had noticed a shortness of breath during the last big day of mobilization on Wednesday. According to the CGT, a union, 1.7 million people had marched in the streets of the country, against 3.5 million the previous week.
In Denis' opinion, the latest political developments will help breathe new life into the protest.
“It is sure that the feeling of revolt rekindled the embers of the movement. »
— Denis, trade unionist and employee of the railway sector
While multiple opinion polls published since the presentation of the pension reform in January show that a large majority of the French opposes the project, the technique used by the government arouses even more disapproval.
According to a Harris poll conducted on behalf of RTL radio, 82% of French people believe that the use of 49.3, the article of the Constitution which allows the government to avoid the vote of deputies, is a bad thing.
I hope it [the government] is not waiting for there to be excesses to listen to us, a demonstrator we met last Wednesday told us in Ardèche, who feared the potential consequences of imposing the reform.
The overflow scenes observed Thursday evening in certain cities such as Paris contrasted with the good-natured atmosphere very largely observed in the gatherings which have been organized in recent weeks.
< p class="e-p">Despite calls for calm by some union leaders, it may be in a completely different state of mind that people will respond to the call to demonstrate launched for next Thursday.
President Macron is denounced in anti-pension reform slogans.
It is not only in the streets that the atmosphere is tense; it is also in the National Assembly. It was to boos and chants that the Prime Minister announced her government's decision on Thursday.
At the podium, the head of government was well aware of the risks associated with the use of article 49.3. The Constitution thus provides that once the procedure has been launched, the bill is considered adopted without the approval of the deputies, unless the government loses a motion of confidence. In this case, the legislation is withdrawn and the government is defeated.
Already, an opposition group has announced that it has tabled a motion of censure, which should be examined on Monday.
However, it is far from certain that the opposition will bring together a majority of deputies around this procedure, since the right-wing party Les Républicains has already announced that it does not intend to support this approach.
But we are not immune to surprises, since the last few weeks have clearly shown that among the Republicans, not everyone speaks with one voice. This political party was after all in favor of pension reform, but some of its members were going to oppose it in the Assembly.
It is among other things this uncertainty, in addition dissension among the presidential troops, which pushed President Macron to favor the imposition of the bill rather than risk a vote he could have lost.
But by taking this decision on such a controversial project, the government, whose troops are a minority in the Assembly, exposed itself to other risks, for example that of no longer being able to negotiate with the opposition about other important legislation. The question of the credibility of the Prime Minister and her government also arises.
This is without taking into account the rumors circulating about the possible holding of early legislative elections. President Macron himself had also threatened to trigger it if his reform project was rejected by the National Assembly.
Chiche, said this week the leader of the National Rally, Marine Le Pen, who assures that she does not fear the holding of an election.
According to a recent Harris poll, the formation of extreme right, which opposes reform while staying away from demonstrations, could well benefit from a new legislative campaign.
In fact, according to this sounding, of all the major parties represented in the Assembly, the National Rally is the one that would make the most gains compared to the last legislative elections, although this progress would be limited.
If for the moment it is through strikes and demonstrations that frustrations with the attitude of the government are measured, in the medium term, this anger could prevail at the ballot box.