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Macron enacts his unpopular pension reform in France despite protests

Macron enacts his unpopular pension reform in France despite protests

The French President, Emmanuel Macronenacted early Saturday morning his unpopular pension reform, a “provocation” for the unions and the opposition after three months of a social conflict that is bound to continue.

“A law promulgated at night, like thieves”reacted the communist leader, Fabien Roussel. “What a provocation! New bluff by Emmanuel Macron as the country has never been so fractured.”tweeted ecologist Marine Tondelier.

Macron’s office announced that the head of state will address the country in a speech on Monday evening, to make, according to government spokesman Olivier Véran, a “balance” of the three months of crisis, “in a logic of appeasement”.

The French Constitutional Council validated on Friday afternoon the delay of the retirement age from 62 to 64 years by 2030 and the advancement to 2027 of the requirement to contribute 43 years, and not 42, to receive a full pension.

Although this represents a “legal victory” For the 45-year-old liberal president, the press unanimously estimated this Saturday that it is a “pyrrhic victory” and “a disaster for the nation” especially when a large majority of Frenchmen opposed it.

The unions had warned that France is experiencing a “democratic crisis” after the president decided in mid-March to adopt his unpopular law by decree, fearing he would lose the vote in Parliament where he lacks an absolute majority.

That decision had radicalized the protests and, with its swift enactment, Macron “seems to enjoy adding fuel to the fire”estimated the leader of the UNSA union, Laurent Escure, for whom “Nothing good will come of this.”

On Friday, after the Constitutional ruling, incidents were recorded in several cities such as Paris, where there were 138 detainees. In Rennes (west) the door of a police station was set on fire, and in Marseille (southeast), the train station was invaded.

The union centrals, spearhead since January of the contestation, have already called a “exceptional mobilization” on May 1, on the occasion of International Workers’ Day, to protest against the reform.

The four representative unions of the national railway company SNCF announced “a day of expression of anger” on Thursday.

And the CGT union also announced new strike days and protests in all sectors on Thursday and April 28.

How to deactivate the conflict?

The government’s objective is to turn the page quickly with new measures in areas such as health or education, in full concern of the French for their purchasing power.

However, the latent social conflict is a brake if it is not resolved, and on the other hand the unions refuse to meet with the government and Macron before May 1.

On May 3, the Constitutional Court must rule on a request by the left-wing opposition to organize a referendum on limiting the retirement age to 62 years, after rejecting a similar first request on Friday.

Beyond the reform, which he defended to avoid a deficit of 13,000 million euros (14,400 million dollars) in the pension fund by 2030, the president also risked being able to apply his program during his second term until 2027.

In April 2022, Macron was re-elected with 58.5% of the vote against the far-right Marine Le Pen. Aware that his victory was due in part to the cordon sanitaire against his rival, he vowed to rule differently and unite the country.

But the episode of the pension reform showed the opposite. The law was adopted using controversial legal mechanisms that limited the debate in Parliament and without listening to the majority rejection of the population and the unions.

The popularity of the head of state has now fallen in polls to less than 30%.

“There is an arrogance in Emmanuel Macron that feeds on social ignorance”affirmed in the newspaper Libération the historian Pierre Rosanvallon, for whom he could now return “the time of revolutions” or “far-right populism”.

Opinion polls show for the moment a deterioration in the confidence of the French in the institutions and a progression in the intention to vote for Marine Le Pen, despite the fact that her opposition to the reform was less active than that of the left.

Source: AFP

Source: Gestion

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