Macron’s Pension Reform Sparks Protests, Senate Vote Paves the Way for Final Adoption
French President Emmanuel Macron has been pushing for changes to the country’s pension system since his election in 2017, in an effort to shore up the financial position of a graying society and keep France competitive. Macron has vowed to bring the French pension system in line with other European countries like Spain and Germany, where the retirement age is 65 to 67 years old.
The pension reform is a key part of Macron's agenda, but polls show that a majority of French people do not want the retirement age to change. Macron has twice turned down urgent calls by unions to meet with him, further angering protesters.
If implemented, France would raise the retirement age gradually, with the new minimum of 64 years expected to be reached by 2030. Advocates of the plans say that the focus on working conditions of older employees may result in improvements as well.
The French Senate voted in favor of the pension reform on Saturday, with 195 in favor and 112 against the measure. This vote paves the way for a potential final adoption of the law on Thursday, as thousands of people continue to demonstrate across the country. Surveys indicate that as many as 70% of the French population are against the alterations; nonetheless, an Ifop survey revealed that 71% accept that the legislation will be accepted.
In order to pass the reform without a vote, Macron invoked a special provision of France’s constitution, a move that escalates the leader’s standoff with protesters and opposition lawmakers. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets, piling pressure on Macron to ditch the pension overhaul.
The French government has called for a “powerful day of strikes and demonstrations” on Wednesday, when lawmakers from the Senate and National Assembly are set to hold a small-group meeting to find a compromise on the pensions revamp. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne tweeted that the Senate vote was a “decisive step to bring about a reform that will ensure the future of our pensions,” however, the public sentiment remains overwhelmingly against the reform. The energy sector has been hit hard, with Paris seeing 6,000 tonnes of rubbish build up as municipal waste collectors extended their walkout into a second week.
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