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France’s Macron rams through pension plan without vote firing public anger

French President Emmanuel Macron has decided to use Article 49.3 of the constitution to adopt the controversial pension reform without a vote in parliament, igniting public anger. 

The French Senate earlier adopted the final version of the draft bill by 193 to 114 votes, French media said. 

It was an expected outcome since the Senate has a right-wing majority. 

The final version of the draft bill was supposed to be transmissted to parliament, which was set to start debating it in the afternoon.

However, President Emmanuel Macron held meetings with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, other ministers and the parliamentary group heads of the political parties and decided to use Article 49.3 of the constitution to bypass the parliamentary process.

“We can’t take the risk of seeing 175 hours of parliamentary debate come to nothing,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told MPs, shouting through jeers and boos from the opposition benches who also loudly sang the French national anthem in protest. 

Macron insists on pension reform despite protests by workers’ unions

The government does not have the absolute majority in the parliament, so it would have risked seeing its draft bill rejected by the members of the parliament – hence Macron’s decision – if Article 49.3 had not been triggered. 

The opposition members previously announced that they would call a censure motion if Article 49.3 was invoked. 

A group of trade union members, including their leaders, gathered earlier near the parliament in Paris, according to reports. 

Following Macron’s decision, crowds gathered and riot police vans zoomed by outside the National Assembly, their sirens wailing.

The reform plan includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 in 2030 and requiring at least 43 years of work to be eligible for full pensions. 

Macron has promoted the pension changes as central to his vision for making the French economy more competitive.

It has triggered public outrage since it was revealed last year. Nationwide protests and strikes have been held since January.

Nearly 500,000 people protested against the bill around the country Wednesday.

Economic challenges have prompted widespread unrest across Western Europe.

France’s big pension dilemma and Macron’s disconnect with reality

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