Pension reform in France: Senate approves the project and awaits the Assembly

Protesters in Paris gather in front of the National Assembly to demonstrate their rejection of the pension reform.  Since January, thousands of French people have protested against changes to the pension regime that Macron has proposed.

Protesters in Paris gather in front of the National Assembly to demonstrate their rejection of the pension reform. Since January, thousands of French people have protested against changes to the pension regime that Macron has proposed.


The pension reform in France was approved in the first debate this Thursday morning. Proposed by President Macron under his promise to make a profound change in the country, the project is awaiting a new debate in the National Assembly for it to be officially ratified.

It is important to clarify that the Legislative branch of France works bicamerally. Parliament (Congress) is divided into two chambers: the Senate, which corresponds to the Upper House and has already approved the reform; and the National Assembly, the Lower House that will discuss the project on Thursday afternoon and decide whether the reform is a success or a political debacle for Macron.

For a reform, in this case the pension, to be approved and ratified in France, it must have majority approval in both the Senate and the National Assembly.

The bill, which raises the minimum retirement age from the current 62 to 64, received 193 votes in favor and 114 against, with 38 abstentions in the Senate, although uncertainty remains over whether it will win the crucial afternoon votes of the deputies after weeks of massive protests.

“The Senate has just approved the pension reform (…) We will be this afternoon in the National Assembly[startingat2pmwiththesamewillthatthisessentialreformgoahead”trilledtheMinisterofLaborOlivierDussopt[apartirdelas2pmconlamismavoluntaddequeestareformaesencialsalgaadelante”trinóelministrodeTrabajoOlivierDussopt

The government wants to delay the retirement age from 62 to 64 years by 2030 and advance to 2027 the requirement to contribute 43 years (and not 42 as before) to collect a full pension. Two out of three French people are opposed, according to polls.

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But beyond the project, Macron, re-elected almost a year ago with the promise of reforming the second largest economy in the European Union (EU), is risking being able to apply his program during his second term and threatened to dissolve the Assembly in case of a setback.

Since Wednesday night, he has multiplied crisis meetings with the government and pro-government groups to ensure that there is a majority, which would avoid activating a controversial parliamentary procedure: article 49.3 of the Constitution.

This would allow the adoption of the reform without the vote of the deputies, who could only stop it if they approve a motion of censure against the government of Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne. Some have already advanced that they present motions.

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Submitting the reform to the vote of the deputies and losing it “would seriously hinder” the “rest of his mandate”, but resorting to article 49.3 “would reinforce the image of ‘brutality’ of his power and would fuel the social crisis”, warned the French newspaper L’Opinion.

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Faced with this dilemma, the pro-government deputy Aurore Bergé advocated on the CNews network for “going to the vote” and considered that the dissolution evoked the day before by Macron in the event of a setback, according to the participants in a meeting, would allow obtaining “clarification”.

But calling new legislative elections, less than a year after the last ones, would be a risky bet, especially when Marine Le Pen’s far-right party, opposed to reform, appears strengthened, according to observers.

Paris, epicenter of the marches

All eyes are on a handful of pro-government deputies who could abstain and on “some twenty” LR legislators who, according to Senator Bruno Retailleau, would vote against.

The unions “solemnly” called on parliamentarians to vote against an “unfair” reform and against which between 1.28 million and 3.5 million people demonstrated on March 7, in the largest protest against a social reform in three decades .

However, the response seems to fall, as the French recognize that this law will end up being applied. And the extendable strikes launched last week in key sectors such as energy and transport are also continuing, albeit with less force.

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But opponents of the reform continue to demonstrate. Thomas Portes, opposition deputy said that “once again, power has dishonored itself[…[IcallonallthosewhoopposethisreformtomarchonParis()Donotletthemstealtwoyearsofyourlife”hetrilled[…[LlamoatodoslosqueseoponenaestareformaaquemarchensobreParís()Nodejenquelesrobendosañosdevida”trinó

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On the other hand, the historical leader of the leftist formation La Francia Insumisa, Jean Luc Mélenchon, appealed on Twitter to the deputies to “correct this denial of democracy” which for him means voting for a project that has, according to polls, the rejection of the 68% of the French.

The main union leaders will meet at noon before the Assembly to make a last call to the deputies and will meet again after the parliamentary process to analyze the next steps.

If the reform is adopted, the leftist opposition is preparing an appeal before the Constitutional Council that would delay its promulgation and give opponents time to use their last cartridges, such as calling for a referendum.

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