France: anti-government protests spread over pension reform


Aggravated since the 16th by the approval by decree of the pension reform, the anti-government protests amplified yesterday in a good part of France, which reminded us of the 2018 revolt of the “Yellow Vestss”.

The unrest in the streets over the adoption, by mandate of the French president and without a vote in the National Assembly, of a reform that raises the retirement age from 62 to 64 has also been transferred to Parliament, which is expected to vote on Monday two motions of no confidence to overthrow the executive appointed by the president, Emmanuel Macron.

However, both initiatives have little chance of prospering, in the event that the conservative formation Los Republicanos (LR) manages to maintain the voting discipline that they did not achieve on the 16th, when the Executive, in a relative minority, was forced to activate article 49.3 by the absence of a clear majority in the Assembly.

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

Meanwhile, many of them called on social networks outside the unions and parties, various demonstrations took place in several dozen French cities, even medium or small ones, such as Mulhouse (east) or Compiegne (north).

As usual, the mobilization with the greatest impact was that of Paris.

Protests have taken place in France after the approval of the pension reform. Photo: diffusion

garbage hills

Trains, refineries, the gas sector and garbage collection, among others, have been affected and one of the most relevant examples is the strike of the cleaning services in Paris, which is almost two weeks old. Despite the fact that the French government has forced several workers to return to their jobs, citing the danger to public health of the waste, thousands of tons of garbage were still scattered on the sidewalks of the French capital.

The French police prohibited the concentrations on Saturday in the Place de la Concorde in Paris, located in front of the Parliament, after the two nights of demonstrations.

“Due to the serious risks of disturbance of public order and security (…) all gatherings on public roads in and around Place de la Concorde, as well as in the Champs-Elysees area, are prohibited,” said a police spokesman.

macron at risk

The triumph of the motion of censure, according to experts, would lead Macron to dissolve the chambers, call for legislatures and, in the current social situation, with massive demonstrations in the streets, face them in a situation of increasing degradation of his image.

In recent weeks, the president’s popularity has fallen 7 points and only has the support, according to polls, of a quarter of the French and that in the event of the dissolution of the National Assembly, they indicate that the only beneficiary would be the extreme right of Marine Le Pen.

Avoiding the “tax loophole”

Analysis. Humberto Campodonico

In France, pensions are paid by the State and have a system called pay-as-you-go, or intergenerational solidarity, pensions for retirees are paid by those who are working. There are private systems but they are in the minority, as they have failed.

As life expectancy has increased and the population growth rate has decreased, in a few years there will be a “huge fiscal gap” of 18 billion euros. His proposal is to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 years. As it is rejected by the majority of the population and also by Congress, he has activated a constitutional article that would allow him to approve his project without it being debated by the Congress. Macron’s critics say the bill leaves retirees in low-value jobs unprotected.

Thomas Piketty says the project demonstrates that Macron no longer even has the intention of “playing to modernize the social State”, that since the 1980s, with neoliberalism, the gap between salaries has tripled and inequality has increased. And that the underlying problem is that productivity has fallen because investment in education (above all), in health and in infrastructure has decreased. This must be resumed.

For the short term, his economic proposal to cover the deficit is to increase the social contribution to the 500 great fortunes of France by 2%, which is 20,000 million euros per year. This proposal has nothing to do with the approach of invoking article 49.3, as Macron has done.