The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has chosen to carry out his unpopular pension reform through article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows it to be approved without a vote by the Assembly, given the serious doubts that he could count on the necessary support in the final vote to be held today. The text, which seeks to delay the retirement age from the current 62 years to 64, will be approved by decree-law with a vast majority of French people against it.
The use of this article opens a political and social crisis of unknown consequences, since it is seen as an act of force on the part of the Government. The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, had recognized that she could become the "fuse", the target, of this decision and she could resign. The unions have warned that this decision means "the end of democratic life" and that there will be social mobilization in this regard.
Before the Prime Minister spoke in the Assembly, several deputies from the left-wing La France Insoumise party rose with banners of "49.3, c'est non" and "democracia" while they sang the Marseillaise, with shouts of "resignation" and between boos. This has forced the session to be suspended for a few minutes. When Borne mentioned the article, the deputies left the Chamber.
In the last few hours, the government's plan has been dismantled, which this weekend insisted that it was not going to resort to this resource and hoped to obtain the necessary support to pass its law in the Assembly. With the entire parliamentary arc against, he only had the support of the conservative party of Los Republicanos, very divided on the matter.
"There was uncertainty about some votes and we cannot risk seeing 175 hours of debate in the Assembly collapse. It is about its reform, about the text of Parliament agreed with deputies and senators, that I am ready to assume my responsibility", said Borne, who could barely speak amid the cries of the opposition.
According to this constitutional mechanism, the reform is considered approved unless a motion of censure is presented before Friday at 3:20 p.m. Both Marine Le Pen's party and La Francia Insumisa have already communicated their intention to do so.
The government is in a difficult situation. The last 48 hours have been a heart attack and it was not so clear that the accounts would come out. Macron has met with Borne and several of his emergency ministers twice before the vote to assess which of all the scenarios is worse: the one caused by a rejection of the reform by the Assembly, or the one caused by an activation of the controversial article to approve it.
The consequences of this approval are unpredictable, since the law has great opposition. The unions had threatened to intensify the protests if it were approved, after almost two months of protests, a thousand demonstrations throughout France and eight general strikes.
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