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French President Emmanuel Macron pushed his pension reform bill without MPs’ approval, sparking violent protests and calls for France to leave the EU. The legislation still faces a review by the Constitutional Council before it can be signed into law. The council has the power to reject articles within bills but usually approves them.
Macron’s controversial reform has sparked renewed calls for Frexit – a French departure from the EU.
Brussels is being blamed by some in the country for the legislation being pushed in exchange for Next Generation funds.
Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois said: “When I called to beat Macron in the second round of the 2022 presidential election, some people said to me, stupidly repeating the language of power: ‘Do you realise the chaos if Marine Le Pen is elected?’
“I told them: ‘It is the opposite, if Macron is elected then you will have chaos!'”
The first no-confidence motion, proposed by a small centrist group with support across the left, narrowly missed approval by National Assembly MPs Monday afternoon, garnering 278 of the 287 votes needed to pass. The second motion, brought by the far-right National Rally, won just 94 votes in the chamber.
Macron’s centrist alliance has more seats than any other group in the lower chamber.
The speaker of the National Assembly, Yael Braun-Pivet, said the failure of both votes means parliament has adopted the pension bill.
Yet this is not the end of the complex path to turn the bill into law. Opponents said they would ask the Constitutional Council to review the text before it is formally promulgated, opening the door to the possible rejection of articles within the measure if they are not in line with the constitution. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said she would ask the council to censure it.
Macron, who has remained silent since his decision to push the bill through last week, will meet Tuesday morning with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and the leaders of his centrist alliance.
After the first vote Monday, some leftist MPs called for Borne to resign.
MP Mathilde Panot said. “Only nine votes are missing … to bring both the government down and its reform down.
“The government is already dead in the eyes of the French, it doesn’t have any legitimacy anymore.”
The Senate, dominated by conservatives who back the retirement plan, approved the legislation last week.
The head of The Republicans’ MPs, Olivier Marleix, earlier explained why his group would reject the motions.
He said during the debate Monday afternoon: “We acknowledge the need for reform to save our pension system and defend retirees’ purchasing power.
A minority of conservative lawmakers strayed from the party line and voted in favor of the first motion.
France, like many richer nations, has a low birth rate and its citizens have a longer life expectancy.
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The tensions in the political arena have been echoed on the streets, marked by intermittent protests and strikes in various sectors, including transportation, energy and sanitation workers. Garbage in Paris has piled ever higher and reeked of rotting food on the 15th day of a strike by collectors. The three main incinerators serving the French capital have been mostly blocked, as has a garbage sorting centre northwest of Paris.
On Monday, hundreds of mainly young protesters gathered by Les Invalides, the final resting place of Napoleon, to demonstrate against pension reform. Some trash bins were set on fire in early evening, but the protest was otherwise calm. Participants listened to the proceedings in the National Assembly through a channel broadcast on loudspeaker from a union van.
Some refineries that supply gas stations also are at least partially blocked, and Transport Minister Clement Beaune said on France-Info radio Monday that he would take action if necessary to ensure that fuel still gets out.
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