The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, engaged, Thursday, March 16, the responsibility of her government on the pension reform by having recourse to article 49.3 of the Constitution. In the following twenty-four hours, the deputies have the possibility of replying with a motion of censure against the government. Two texts were actually tabled on Friday: one by the National Rally group, the other, presented as "transpartisan", by the centrist group Liberties, Independents, Overseas and Territories (LIOT), supported in particular by the New Union popular ecological and social (Nupes). They should be put to the vote on Monday, March 20, in the National Assembly. What are the possible scenarios then?
In case of adoption of a motion of censure
If one of the motions of censure is voted by the majority of the deputies, the law is rejected and the government is overthrown. The adoption of a motion of censure by a majority of deputies would result in the rejection of the text drawn up by the Joint Joint Commission (CMP) and, probably, in the abandonment of this bill.
One can however envisage, from a strictly legislative point of view, that the process continues with a new reading, which is the usual continuation of the legislative procedure in the event of rejection of a text proposed by the CMP; the bill would then be reconsidered by the National Assembly and the Senate. If this hypothesis is legally founded, it seems politically untenable. It is indeed difficult to imagine that a future government will be able to resume this reform.
If a motion of censure constitutes a major political setback, it does not oblige the Head of State to dissolve the National Assembly. The latter can compose by appointing a new government and negotiate or postpone certain bills.
However, it is possible to resolve a political crisis: under article 12, the president has the possibility of dissolving the National Assembly after consultation with the prime minister and the presidents of the two assemblies. New elections are then organized within twenty to forty days. It is still necessary that the majority resulting from these elections be more favorable to him, which constitutes a risky bet.
In case of rejection of motions of censure
The failure of the no-confidence motions remains the most likely scenario, given the current composition of the National Assembly, resulting in the final adoption of the bill. However, there are still some possible obstacles before its effective implementation.
The example of the first employment contract (CPE) of 2006 is often cited. This law, which created a special youth CDI with a two-year trial period, was also adopted with the use of 49.3 by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, then promulgated. But it was suspended immediately, and removed by a new vote.
This exceptional reaction from the executive was the response to a situation of extreme social tension and very strong protest: blockades of universities and then high schools, up to three million demonstrators in the street, events punctuated by violent clashes between participants and the police and a public opinion favorable to the demonstrators.
Within fifteen days following the final adoption of a law, the Constitutional Council may be seized by at least 60 parliamentarians. The head of the deputies La France insoumise (LFI), Mathilde Panot, has already announced that the left would launch this procedure. The referral, which suspends the time limit for promulgation of the law, must be examined within one month. Article 61.3 of the Constitution allows the government to ask the Constitutional Council to examine the text urgently, which reduces the period to eight days.
Dominique Rousseau, professor of constitutional law, underlined, Friday March 17, on Franceinfo “the strong risks of unconstitutionality of this law, not so much on the bottom, but on the form. (…) There was not really a clear and sincere debate; however, it is a constitutional requirement. »
Parliament was extremely coerced by the government, which used a very large number of procedural instruments; recourse to article 47.1 of the Constitution to reduce the time of debates, refusal of admissibility of amendments by article 44.2, article 38 of the rules of the Senate to limit debates on an amendment, vote blocked by article 44.3 on the end of the text in the Senate, then recourse to article 49.3 on the whole of the text... These levers are in conformity with the Constitution taken independently, but their accumulation can lead to the questioning of "the clarity and sincerity of the parliamentary debate" which is a constitutional requirement.
Questioned by Le Monde, Jean-Philippe Derosier, constitutional expert and professor of public law at the University of Lille, adds another weakness of the text:
“In terms of content, the PLFSS [Social Security financing bill, which includes this reform] must contain the subjects open to PLFSS, with the whole question of social riders. This is precisely why there is a question about the constitutionality of borrowing this vehicle to reform pensions. »
The organization of a referendum of shared initiative proposing the abandonment of the reform is theoretically possible, but constrained in time.
The RIP is a bill that makes it possible to organize a popular consultation. It must be co-signed by at least a fifth of the members of Parliament, i.e. 185 deputies and senators - 252 parliamentarians, deputies from the Nupes and senators from the various left-wing groups filed a request for RIP on Friday for the legal age of departure to be retirement cannot be extended beyond age 62.
But where the process gets complicated is that the RIP cannot relate to the repeal of a legislative provision that has been in force for less than a year.
If the pension reform is adopted (in the event of rejection of the motion of censure), the Constitutional Council can be seized by the parliamentarians, having thirty days (or eight days if the government invokes urgency) to examine the text. However, this same Constitutional Council has the same deadline to validate the RIP proposal, after checking the number of applicants and the subject of the bill.
If the Constitutional Council validates the text of the RIP before the law on pension reform is promulgated, it then entrusts the organization of the collection of support to the Ministry of the Interior within nine months. If at least 10% of voters support this proposal, it must be examined in the National Assembly and the Senate, and if not submitted to a referendum by the President of the Republic.