Friday, March 24, 2023

French government says it will seek agreements to complete pension reform

The French government assured this Sunday that it will work to “seek agreements” and add the necessary support to achieve an absolute majority -with the support of allies and partners in the opposition- for the final parliamentary process on the unpopular pension reform, which will begin on Wednesday.

“It is necessary to seek consensus together,” Olivier Véran, spokesman for the Executive, told the media, after leaving a strategic meeting called this afternoon by the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, with the holders of the portfolios involved in the reform.

Specifically, Véran explained that Borne has asked his ministers to work in the coming days to accompany the search for agreements on the final text and “turn the relative majority” of macronism into an “absolute” one in the final votes.

With this, the Executive seeks to remove the ghosts of a possible recourse to the constitutional mechanism that allows the Executive to approve bills by force, without submitting them to a parliamentary vote, even opening up to the possibility of censure motions.

“We do not want a 49.3”, Véran confirmed, referring to the article of the Constitution that includes this power and that, in the current legislature, has already been used by Borne to force the approval of various projects, such as the latest budgets.

The Government spokesman was confident that it is possible to add the necessary support and put as a sample the broad support for the conflictive reform achieved last night in the Senate.

The crucial final procedures will begin this Wednesday, with the meeting of a mixed joint commission – made up of seven senators and seven deputies – to agree on a common text that takes into account the latest modifications and that must then be validated again by both chambers.

The commission procedure does not present itself as a major stumbling block for macronism, which will be well represented along with its main partners in the company to reform pensions, the conservative block of Los Republicanos (LR).

Once a joint version of the text is reached, the proposal will return to the Senate and the National Assembly from March 16.

Obtaining new support from the Senate, which last night adopted the reform by 195 votes in favor and 112 against, is not expected to be complicated either.

The National Assembly, however, is presented as a much tougher scenario, since the ruling bloc, even maintaining all the support of LR, would achieve a very tight absolute majority.

On the 15th, in addition, a new day of national mobilizations is called, the eighth organized by the unions -which are directly opposed to the reform- since January.

The main axis of the project promoted by Macron is to delay the minimum retirement age by two years, from the current 62 years to 64.


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