N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
French President Macron’s decision to push through his pension-change plan via a controversial constitutional article (the so-called 49.3 procedure) that sidelines the parliament added fuel to the fire. France never liked Macron, he was twice elected by default because the alternative, Marine le Pen, was unacceptable for a lot of voters. And he failed at last year’s parliamentary election to secure a majority in the Assemblee Generale.
Monday the government narrowly survived a vote of no confidence. The vote won 278 MP’s while only nine more were needed to topple the government. It was a surprise that there was so much support. Now the draft pension reform bill will soon be submit to the Constitutional Council for approval.
Throughout France demonstrations and blockades are going on. The anger and incomprehension over Macron’s proposed pension reforms are enormous. 70% of France’s population are rejecting the reforms, especially the raising of the retirement age. In a functioning democracy the opposing arguments would surely find some form of compromise. After all, a majority of the population, while rejecting the Macron plan, agrees that some reform of pensions is needed.
But is French democracy functioning? Faith in conventional politics and the parliamentary system is in fact at rock-bottom. How else to explain the collapse of Gaullists and Socialists, who ran France for more than half a century. And Macron only narrowly could defeat the far-right candidate for the Presidency.
Thursday will be a national protest day again. ‘Blame 49.3. Blame Macron’, will be the ‘battle cry’ again