Pension reform: the French government remains inflexible

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Reform pensions: the French government remains inflexible

A demonstrator holds a mask bearing the image of French President Emmanuel Macron during a mobilization against the use of Article 49.3 of the Constitution to pass the pension reform.

The French government stepped up to the plate on Sunday to defend the decried decision to force through pension reform on the eve of a “moment of truth” when it will have to overcome two motions of censure in the National Assembly.

Since the executive activated Thursday Article 49.3 of the Constitution to have this text adopted without a vote, anger has not subsided among opponents of the reform, mobilized since mid-January against the passage of 62 64 years from retirement age.

Denouncing a denial of democracy, demonstrators gathered again on Saturday in several cities in France, especially in Paris, where brief clashes broke out with the police during the evening.

Incidents had already occurred in the capital on Thursday and Friday evening on the huge Place de la Concorde, near the National Assembly, which authorities have since closed to protesters.

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A policeman drags a protester to Place de la Concorde.

Weakened by the protest, the government led by Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne tried on Sunday to unite on the eve of a day when it will play for its survival.

Two motions of censorship will be examined Monday in the National Assembly, where the presidential Renaissance party holds a relative majority.

In the case, arithmetically unlikely, where one of these two motions is adopted , the government would be dismissed and the pension project would be postponed.

It will be a moment of truth. Is the pension reform worth, yes or no, the fall of the government and the political disorder? The answer is clearly no, certified the Minister of the Economy and heavyweight of the government, Bruno Le Maire, in the daily Le Parisien.

On the front line on the pension file, the Minister of Labour, Olivier Dussopt, assured that he did not believe in a union of left, right and extreme right oppositions around a motion of censure.< /p>

For that it would have to bring together a coalition of "against", of "anti", to obtain a very heterogeneous majority without a common political line, he said. he says he estimates in the columns of the Sunday newspaper, again defending a reform intended, according to him, to save the pension system.

On the left, the opposition seeks to project itself beyond Monday in order to avoid demobilization in the event of rejection of the motions of censure, which would be synonymous with the adoption of the reform.

The fight will continue regardless of the result, assured Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the radical left party La France insoumise, on RTL radio.

I will never say that we must stop the mobilization as long as the reform at 64 is proposed, we must continue, he insisted as a united trade union front calls for a ninth day of ;action Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron has chosen to use Article 49.3 of the Constitution French, which allows him to pass a bill without submitting it to the vote of the National Assembly. (File photo)

Whatever the outcome of the procedure on Monday, the executive has already left feathers in this crisis.

Head of State Emmanuel Macron, who is playing his credit and his second term on this reform, saw his popularity rating collapse in March to 28%, the lowest since 2019, according to a poll yet carried out before the decision to resort to Article 49.3, of which he is the real instigator.

The boss of the deputies of the presidential party, Aurore Bergé, admitted on Sunday that this passage in force could have been badly experienced in public opinion and that it will be necessary to rebuild the link with the French.

Sign of tension, the office of the leader of the right-wing opposition party Les Républicains, Éric Ciotti, was stoned overnight from Saturday to Sunday in Nice to push him to vote in favor of the motion of censure.

Other pro-reform parliamentarians have also been targeted, raising fears of violent actions against them.

On the social front, several key sectors of the economy remain disrupted, including transport, waste collection and fuel supply.

The largest refinery in the country, located in Normandy and operated by TotalEnergies, has thus begun to be shut down by opponents. Other sites could follow this unprecedented movement since the beginning of the mobilization.

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