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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Macron faces double no-confidence vote after forcing through pension bill

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The French opposition has filed two motions of no-confidence against President Emmanuel Macron’s government on Friday, after he pushed through a controversial pension reform without a vote in the lower house of parliament. The reform, which would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 and change the calculation of pensions, has sparked widespread protests and strikes across France since December.

The first motion was filed by a leftist coalition called Nupes, which includes socialists, communists and environmentalists. The second motion was filed by the far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen. Both motions accuse Macron of abusing his power and betraying his promises of social dialogue.

The motions have little chance of succeeding, as they need an absolute majority of 289 votes out of 577 lawmakers to pass. Macron’s centrist party still has 250 seats in parliament, despite losing its majority in last month’s election. The conservative Republicans, who hold 62 seats, did not join either motion.

However, the opposition hopes to use the motions as a symbolic gesture to show their discontent with Macron’s policies and leadership. They also want to put pressure on his government ahead of local elections in June and presidential elections next year.

Macron defended his decision to use a constitutional article that allows him to bypass parliament when there is a risk of obstruction. He said that he wanted to end months of parliamentary debate that had been hijacked by “a minority” of lawmakers who used thousands of amendments to delay the reform.

The pension reform is one of Macron’s flagship projects and aims to create a universal system that would replace 42 existing schemes with different rules and benefits. He argues that it would be fairer, simpler and more sustainable. But critics say it would reduce pensions for many workers and force them to work longer.

The reform has triggered massive demonstrations across France over the past three months, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets. The protests have been joined by various sectors such as teachers, lawyers, doctors, firefighters and transport workers. Some public services have been severely disrupted by strikes that lasted for weeks.

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