With a difficult prognosis in the National Assembly, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, decided this Thursday (16) to trigger a constitutional mechanism to increase the country’s retirement age from 62 to 64 years without a vote by deputies. The decision was taken on the same day that the government’s bill would be voted after being approved in the Senate.
Article 49.3 of the French Constitution, established in 1958 during Charles de Gaulle’s government, allows the executive to pass a bill without it passing through the National Assembly. Data from Ifop, an important French research institute, revealed this week, indicate that 78% of the population rejects the use of this device.
Congressmen, however, can trigger a vote of no confidence against the government, which will only go to plenary if 10% of parliamentarians support it. With a simple majority against the current management, the prime minister and his cabinet of ministers need to be changed, but the president remains in office.
“We cannot risk seeing 175 hours of parliamentary debate come to nothing,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne was quoted as saying by Le Monde.
According to information published by The New York Times, Macron has used the constitutional mechanism in the past to pass budget rules, but the application of Article 49.3 to raise the retirement age is more controversial.
The level of agreement of the French with Macron’s reform is low, an additional element in the correlation of forces unfavorable to the president. According to Ifop, only 23% of the population sees the social security reform project as “acceptable” – much less than the 53% of 2010, when the last version of the project that foresees changes in Social Security was approved.
Macron intends to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 and also raise the number of years worked required to retire from 42 to 43. Union centers in the country mobilized to block the reform and organized general strikes.
“This bill that has no parliamentary legitimacy, nor street legitimacy,” said Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the left-wing France Insubmissa party.
Editing: Patricia de Matos