The Senate, with a majority on the right, voted in favor of the pension reform this Saturday evening, after having completed the examination of the amendments on Saturday evening, by 195 votes against 112 after ten days of heated debates, at the end of a new day of mobilization and before a decisive week for the government project.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne did not hide her satisfaction after this first real legislative success for an extremely contested project. "An important step has been taken," she immediately welcomed in a statement to Agence France Presse, convinced that "there is a majority" in Parliament to adopt the reform.
The Senate completed its race against the clock on Saturday evening with a day ahead of the deadline set for midnight Sunday, under the article of the Constitution to which the government has resorted to limit the time of legislative debates .
"Finally, here we are!" exclaimed the boss of senators LR Bruno Retailleau who asked the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt to send a message to President Emmanuel Macron. "We vote for reform, but we don't vote (for) him," he said.
On the left, PS Senator Monique Lubin, for her part, castigated a "brutal" reform. "It's a black day for all workers in this country," she lamented. In February, the avalanche of amendments tabled by the left alliance (Nupes) had prevented the Assembly from deciding on this reform, which was contested on all sides, without even managing to examine Article 7 at the heart of the project, providing raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.
In the Senate, where insubordinate France (LFI) does not have elected officials, the debates were less peaceful than expected. In order to accelerate the debates which dragged on, Olivier Dussopt, anxious to obtain democratic legitimacy for the reform, had drawn the weapon of Article 44.3 of the Constitution on Friday.
A procedure which allows a single vote on the whole of the text without putting to the vote the amendments to which the government is unfavorable. Examination of the bill has therefore been able to move forward at a brisk pace, especially after the boost driven by Bruno Retailleau, who on Saturday afternoon gave up presenting his emblematic amendment, which called for the abolition of the special regimes benefiting certain categories of workers, including current employees.
While the Senate was concluding the review of the reform, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets during a seventh day of action, which mobilized significantly less than the previous six. The Ministry of the Interior counted 368,000 demonstrators in France, including 48,000 in Paris, less than February 16, the day that has mobilized the least since the start of the protest on January 19. The determination is "strong", nevertheless assured the secretary general of the CFDT, Laurent Berger who regularly underlines the historic character of the popular opposition to this reform.
After the Senate, it is now the turn of the Joint Joint Committee (CMP) to enter the scene, a conclave which will bring together 7 deputies, 7 senators, and as many substitutes on Wednesday in a closed room at the Palais Bourbon with the objective of reaching a compromise on the measures that the Assembly and the Senate did not vote in the same terms.
The presidential camp and the right seem to have control of this CMP, with respectively 5 and 4 holders each, including Olivier Marleix, boss of the LR deputies. A new day of demonstrations, the eighth, is planned in parallel with the meeting.
In the best of scenarios for the executive, if deputies and senators reach an agreement within this commission, the revised text will have to be validated Thursday, March 16 from 9 a.m. in the Senate, then at 3 p.m. in the Assembly. This last vote, if it is positive, will be worth definitive adoption by the Parliament.
But doubts about the existence of a majority in the Assembly have revived the hypothesis of a recourse by the government to article 49.3 of the Constitution. It allows adoption without a vote, but exposes the executive to the risk of a motion of censure.
At the Palais Bourbon, the right, traditionally in favor of postponing the legal retirement age, is much more divided than in the Senate. At this stage, only between 30 and 35 LR deputies (out of 61) plan to vote for the text, around fifteen to oppose it, and around ten to abstain, according to an internal source.