French left calls for no-confidence vote as Macronists obstruct bill to repeal pension reforms

Emmanuel Macron’s government in France has abused the emergency provisions in the constitution to pass and defend its anti-worker pension reforms. It has also used the security forces to crack down on workers protesting against the rise in retirement ageJune 09, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch

9-06 French Update

MPs from the NUPES coalition outside the National Assembly. (Photo via Twitter)

On Thursday, June 8, the president of the French National Assembly, Yael Braun-Pivet, blocked proceedings on a bill proposed by the Liberties, Independents, Overseas and Territories (LIOT) opposition group to repeal the controversial pension reforms enacted by the Emmanuel Macron government. Braun-Pivet is from Macron’s party, the Renaissance (RE). To dismiss the opposition bill in the National Assembly, she invoked Article 40 of the French constitution, under which any proposals or amendments made by parliamentarians that would decrease revenue or increase public expenses are not permitted. 

The LIOT group subsequently withdrew the bill. A key clause in the bill against the increase in retirement age had already been struck down in a parliamentary committee. 

Outraged National Assembly members from the left-wing coalition New Ecological and Social People’s Union (NUPES) protested the move as an attack on democracy and resolved to continue the fight against pension reforms. They have also called for a motion of censure (no-confidence motion) against the government.

The pension reforms were announced by French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on January 10 and stipulated the phased raising of the retirement age from 62 to 64 at a rate of three months per year from September 1, 2023 until 2030. Additionally, workers would have to work for 43 years instead of the current 42 to get a full-rate pension. On March 16, the government used the emergency provision Article 49.3 of the French constitution to bypass final voting on the bill in the National Assembly and passed the 2023 Social Security Financing Adjustment Law amidst fierce opposition from the NUPES and the French working class. The government narrowly survived a no-confidence motion pushed by the opposition on March 20 over the bill.

Two requests by the opposition parties to conduct a referendum on raising the retirement age were also denied by the French Constitutional Council. The protests against the reforms saw the massive mobilization of people across the country, as millions marched against the reforms and observed National Strikes for many days. On June 6, in the 14th round of mobilization, hundreds of thousand participated across the county. On multiple occasions, the government used security forces to quell the protests. The parliamentary debates on pension reforms have also witnessed the government abusing emergency provisions of the French constitution to undemocratically push and defend their anti-worker pension reforms.

On June 8, Elsa Faucillon, MP from the French Communist Party (PCF), tweeted that “National Assembly President Yaël Braun-Pivet prevents the vote against retirement at 64 and gags the will of the French and its representatives, bowing to Macron’s will. This government is destroying democracy.”

On June 9, in its statement, the General Confederation of Labor said that “by failing to protect the rights of the opposition and by applying the orders of the Elysée in defiance of the independence of its function, she [Braun-Pivet] further weakens the democratic debate and the separation of powers.”

The union confederation added that it will continue the struggle for the withdrawal of reforms.