France wants to implement the controversial pension reform bypassing parliament by decree. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (article picture) told the National Assembly that the government wanted to end this “episode of non-discussion”. Since February 17, MEPs have debated President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to unify the pension system. With a total of 41,000 amendments, the opposition tried to delay the decisive vote.
Deputies from the government camp had accused the left-wing camp of “wanting to paralyze” the National Assembly in a controversial debate. Left-wing parliamentarians warned that the government wanted to implement the pension reform bypassing the people’s representation. That’s exactly how it will come now. The rarely used constitutional clause 49-3 allows the government to bypass parliament.
France’s longest strikes
The unions are storming the reform. For a quarter of a year, they organized nationwide strikes and demonstrations, some of which resulted in violent clashes with the police. Local and long-distance traffic was paralyzed for almost seven weeks in protest. The French railways SNCF went deep into the red because of the strikes before the turn of the year.
There are more than 40 different pension funds in France’s outdated pension system. The retirement age and pension benefits vary. For example, railway employees can retire much earlier than other employees. President Macron considers the system to be unfair and too expensive. He wants to switch to pension points that should apply equally to all French.
If the opposition to the decree does not vote no, the reform is automatically considered to have been accepted. In May 2006, the then Socialist President Francois Hollande last used the constitutional clause to push through the controversial labor market reform.