French government survives no-confidence votes
Lawmakers in France’s National Assembly stifled two no-confidence motions on Monday, clearing the way for President Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular pension reforms to become law.
The first motion, filed by a centrist coalition with broad support on the political Left, netted 278 votes in favor of censuring the government, just nine short of the required 287. A second motion filed by the right-wing National Rally party attracted only 94 votes.
Olivier Marleix, the leader of the majority Republicans party, committed his faction to supporting the government, acknowledging what he called “the need for a reform to save our pension system and defend retirees’ purchasing power,” even as a handful of party members defected to back the first no-confidence motion. Agnes Evren, the party’s vice president, had previously promised just five Republican MPs would vote against Macron’s reforms, a far cry from the 30 that would have been required to block the pension package. Several MPs came forward over the weekend to claim they had received death threats from constituents seeking to sway their votes on Monday’s motions.
Both initiatives were introduced on Friday after Macron’s government bypassed a vote in the National Assembly to force through the unpopular pension reforms opposed by two thirds of the French electorate. The package would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 and lengthen the required employment period for a worker to receive a full pension upon retirement to 43 years.
While the reforms passed through the Senate last week, Macron insisted there was “too much uncertainty” regarding their support in the lower house to leave the matter to chance and deployed a constitutional loophole to dodge the vote, a move denounced by union leaders as “a complete denial of democracy.” Several days of violent demonstrations and riots have followed in cities across the nation, while a patchwork of strikes has been declared.