Macron’s pension reform faces major constitutional test


PARIS (AFP)-France’s Supreme Constitutional Court is set to decide whether to approve President Emmanuel Macron’s highly unpopular pension reform bill.

The 45-year-old centrist leader is facing a major domestic crisis over his major pension reform that will raise the minimum retirement age from his 62 to his 64.

Some demonstrations have turned violent since Macron’s government last month exercised its legal executive powers to bring the bill to parliament without a vote, but it has since criticized allegations of undemocratic behavior by its opponents. is causing

A green light from the Constitutional Council is the final hurdle for President Macron to approve the law change and ensure its implementation by the end of the year.

But trade unions and opposition politicians want to reject the reforms that President Macron put at the center of his second reelection campaign last year. About 380,000 people took to the streets across the country in the last day of union-led law-breaking actions since January, according to the interior ministry, putting the number at more than 1 million.

Both numbers have fallen since the peak of protests in March, when cities across France held their biggest rallies in decades.

Momentum has waned in recent weeks as they seem tired of sacrificing a day’s wages for strikes and demonstrations, but unions say their resolve is unwavering.

Paris police have banned demonstrations around Paris’s Constitutional Council until Saturday morning. The court will make two decisions by the end of the day.

First, the nine-member council will decide whether the pension reform plan, which was formulated as the social budget revision law, is constitutional.

Experts believe the most likely scenario is a partial approval of the bill.

That means it may drop some details of the law as inappropriate for this kind of legislation, but focus on its core elements, such as changing the legal retirement age. There is a possibility.

Second, the court is set to consider his two separate motions by the left-wing opposition seeking a possible referendum on an alternative law limiting retirement age to her 62. Whether or not we get the go-ahead remains to be seen, but the road to a true referendum will be a long one.

For each vote, the opposition will need to collect about 4.8 million signatures over nine months from voters supporting its proposal.

Also, a referendum will only take place if both houses of Congress refuse to consider the bill within the next six months, which is considered unlikely.

Macron, who has repeatedly refused requests to meet with union leaders in recent weeks, said he would invite workers’ representatives to meet as soon as the court’s decision was made public.

CFDT union leader Laurent Berger said that if the bill is only partially approved, it should be reconsidered in parliament. Opinion polls show that about two-thirds of French people oppose changes to the pension system, which critics say is unfair to women and low-income workers who start working young. increase.

The government argues that it is essential to prevent the system from running into deep reds in the coming decades and to keep France in line with the rest of Europe, where the average retirement age is higher than usual.