The Dallas Morning News
Macron survives no-confidence votes
But fate of divisive pension bill up to Constitutional Council
PARIS — Parliament adopted a divisive pension bill Monday raising the retirement age in France from 62 to 64, after lawmakers in the lower chamber rejected two no-confidence votes against the government.
But the bill pushed through by President Emmanuel Macron without lawmakers’ approval still faces a review by the Constitutional Council before it can be signed into law. The council has the power to reject articles within bills but usually approves them.
The first no-confidence motion, proposed by a small centrist group with support across the left, narrowly missed approval by National Assembly lawmakers Monday afternoon, garnering 278 of the 287 votes needed to pass. The second motion, brought by the far-right National Rally, won just 94 votes in the chamber. Macron’s centrist alliance has more seats than any other group in the lower chamber.
The speaker of the National Assembly, Yael Braun-pivet, said the failure of both votes means parliament has adopted the pension bill.
Yet this is not the end of the complex path to turn the bill into law. Opponents said they would ask the Constitutional Council to review the text before it is formally promulgated, opening the door to the possible rejection of articles within the measure if they are not in line with the constitution. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said she would ask the council to censure it.
Macron, who has remained silent since his decision to push the bill through last week, will meet Tuesday morning with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and the leaders of his centrist alliance.
After the first vote Monday, some leftist lawmakers called for Borne to resign.
“Only nine votes are missing ... to bring both the government down and its reform down,” hard-left lawmaker Mathilde Panot said. “The government is already dead in the eyes of the French, it doesn’t have any legitimacy any more.”
The Senate, dominated by conservatives who back the retirement plan, approved the legislation last week.
Need for reform
The head of The Republicans’ lawmakers, Olivier Marleix, earlier explained why his group would reject the motions.
“We acknowledge the need for a reform to save our pension system and defend retirees’ purchasing power,” he said during the debate Monday afternoon.
A minority of conservatives lawmakers strayed from the party line and voted in favor of the first motion.
Centrist lawmaker Charles de Courson, whose allies introduced the motion supported by the left, deplored the government’s decision to use a special constitutional power to skirt a vote on the pension bill last week.
“How can we accept such contempt for parliament? How can we accept such conditions to examine a text which will have lasting effects on the lives of millions of our fellow citizens?” he exclaimed.
France, like many richer nations, has a low birth rate and its citizens have longer life expectancy.
The tensions in the political arena have been echoed on the streets, marked by intermittent protests and strikes in various sectors, including transportation, energy and sanitation workers. Garbage in Paris has piled ever higher and reeked of rotting food on the 15th day of a strike by collectors. The three main incinerators serving the French capital have been mostly blocked, as has a garbage sorting center northwest of Paris.