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Macron and the political destiny of the pension reform

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Macron and the political destiny of the pension reform

The pension reform bill, wanted by President Emmanuel Macron and proposed by the government of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, landed on the afternoon of February 6 in the hemicycle of the National Assembly, where it was greeted by the barrage of 20,500 amendments .

Given that the government does not have an absolute majority, there are two hypotheses for approval at Palazzo Borbone: support from part of the neo-Gaullist right (The Republicans) o use of the vote of confidence (Article 49/3 of the Constitution). The strongest and most determined oppositions (seated on the benches of the extreme right and the extreme left) have begun to do battle in Parliament and in the squares. Precisely this word – “battle” – dominated the front pages of many French newspapers on February 6: from “The battle for pensions begins in the Assembly” of the Figaro a “Pensions: the battle of the Assembly” from Liberation.

Possible arrangements

However, this is a strange battle, in which each contender has an obvious objective and others under wraps. Macron has tied the very fate of his second term to the pension reform. She must win at all costs and one way or another (barring sensational surprises) she will win. But there is a big difference between the scenario of the agreement with the Republicans and that of 49/3. In the first case (for which former president Sarkozy seems to be working) there could be a de facto enlargement of the area of ​​the majority. In the second, the macronists will be more isolated in Parliament and in the country. The neo-Gaullist group is numerically modest (61 out of 577 deputies) and is moreover divided (at least a tenth of its members would be willing not to vote on the government bill anyway). The text could overcome the obstacle if at least half of the Republicans voted for the reform and some of the others abstained. We will see.

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The numerically heaviest oppositions (the national rallyRN, by Marine Le Pen has 88 deputies and La France InsoumiseLFI, by Jean-Luc Mélenchon 74) pursue in this battle a common goal, reject the lawand others who divide them.

The objectives of the oppositions

Marine Le Pen he wants to remove the party from its historical marginalization. Its purpose is to break the “glass ceiling” that separates it from power. It must therefore keep its feet in two camps: make tough opposition and at the same time accredit itself as a constructive force. Here are the RN deputies presenting their amendments without choosing the path of parliamentary guerrilla warfare and therefore of obstructionism. And here is their controversy with the LFI group, which instead chose that path, presenting over 18,000 amendments. The Lepenist deputies go so far as to accuse the Mélenchonist deputies of “objective support” for President Macron because the tide of amendments can facilitate recourse to the trap of the vote of confidence.

The French radical left it does not need to break any “glass ceiling”, but it does need to revive social protest and increase its influence in the trade union movement. In France, trade unions are both weak (compared to other European countries) and very influential. They are weak in the private sector, but strong in the public (or formerly public) sector. In particular they are strong in transport, ie precisely in the sector whose employees benefit from advantageous conditions for retirement (leaving their jobs before the age of sixty). The common commitment of the various confederations against the current pension reform covers the real competition between them. For mélenchonists this is a golden opportunity to shift the axis of the trade union movement to the left.

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In short, from the point of view of the LFI, the parliamentary guerrilla should become the tip of an iceberg of social protests against the reform, against the cost of living and against the “drifts of capitalism”. Bringing along its left-wing allies (Socialists, Communists and Greens, who have a total of 75 deputies), LFI also aims to relaunch its hegemony over the whole of the “progressive” opposition.

Marine Le Pen’s bet is therefore more “parliamentarian”, while that of Jean-Luc Mélenchon is more “movementist”. Macron’s strength can also come from divisions among his opponents.


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