Macron enrages France by enforcing pension law without a vote. But few believe that he will be forced

Demonstrators take part in a demonstration against the French government’s plan to raise the statutory retirement age in Paris, France, March 16, 2023.

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A coalition of French lawmakers tabled a motion of no confidence in President Emmanuel Macron on Friday after chaotic scenes in the country’s lower house.

Despite frantic last-minute negotiations and crunching numbers, Macron reckoned he wouldn’t have enough votes in the National Assembly to pass his controversial and longstanding plan to raise the retirement age.

So he resorted to the backup plan, which many – including within his party – rejected; with a special constitutional power to enforce them without a parliamentary majority.

The measure, which means raising the national retirement age for most workers from 62 to 64, was announced by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who was met with chants, jeers and boos from lawmakers.

The reaction was violent. Union CFDT called it a “true denial of democracy” and called on local unions to rally over the weekend and hold a big day of strikes and protests on March 23.

Around 7,000 people gathered Thursday night to protest at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, Reuters reported, where police used tear gas and cracked down on protesters.

A coalition of left-wing MPs tabled the motion, backed by left-wing leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Far-right figure Marine Le Pen has said her party, now led by Jordan Bardella, would vote for any motion of no confidence and is expected to table one of its own.

MPs from the Left hold placards and sing the Marseillaise, France’s national anthem, as French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne delivers a speech on the pension reform bill at the National Assembly in Paris, France March 16, 2023.

Pascal Rossignol | Reuters

Macron, Borne and their Renaissance party, formerly En Marche, are expected to come through the vote unscathed.

Julien Hoez, a political adviser who has worked with the Renaissance Party, says the motion of no confidence will struggle to get the required majority of 287 votes. That is with Mélenchon’s left wing La France Insoumise, Le Pen’s National Rally, the green party Europe Ecology and others opposed to Macron’s bill – possibly including members of the centre-right establishment Les Républicains. Hoez noted that it will be tight and Borne may resign.

The strength of sentiment against the use of the special constitutional measure should not be underestimated, he told CNBC over the phone.

“With the budget, it was understandable and acceptable because you need the budget to keep the country going, it made it an easier pill to swallow,” Hoez said.

“Something as important as this had to be done differently for things to work. People think this is undemocratic.”

A protester sits on a lamppost with a placard reading ‘Macron at the service of Black Rock, Black Block at the service of the people’ as protesters set fires in the Place de la Concorde to protest the French government cutting their pension pushes through draft law without a vote by the French Parliament after Article 49.3 of the Constitution came into force on March 16, 2023 in Paris, France.

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While Macron was re-elected in 2022, things are not looking good for next year’s European elections, he said, and at home the Renaissance is increasingly being pushed into a corner between the far left and far right and prevented from overtaking other media.

Some resistance to raising the retirement age shows the negative impact this will have WomenPublic sector employees and those on low wages who start work earlier.

For some on the left, the government’s argument that changes are needed to ensure the longevity of the pension system and reduce its 10 billion euro ($10.73 billion) annual deficit is a case of priority, especially given its policies such as tax breaks in favor of ultra rich and companies.

Marine Le Pen of the National Rally that beat Macron to the top in 2022 has also taken a stand against the reforms, which she has called an unfair burden on the people – and say some analysts The measure could increase their popularity.

What if?

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