French government forces through higher retirement age, risking fresh protests2 min read
The French government has forced controversial plans to raise the retirement age through parliament, a move likely to provoke further protests and strikes.
The National Assembly – the lower house of the country’s parliament – erupted into chaotic scenes as the French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne fought to be heard over chants from lawmakers calling for the government to stand down.
“We cannot bet on the future of our pensions,” Borne said. “This reform is necessary.”
Lawmakers in France’s lower house were due to vote on the bill Thursday afternoon. However, the session was stopped early for Borne’s announcement.
The government does not have enough support to pass the bill in the lower house, but a clause in the French constitution means it can enact legislation without an outright majority.
Borne singled out far-right lawmakers in the lower house for not backing the legislation, which was voted through by the French senate earlier Thursday.
Reacting to Borne’s move, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party, called for the prime minister to step down.
“After the slap that the Prime Minister just gave the French people, by imposing a reform which they do not want, I think that Elisabeth Borne should go,” tweeted Le Pen on Thursday.
Massive protests have been staged regularly throughout France since mid-January, with millions turning out to voice their opposition to the government’s plan to raise the official retirement age for most workers, part of wider reforms to the government’s pension system, one of Europe’s most generous.
The legislation requires French citizens to work until 64, from 62 currently, to qualify for a full state pension.
The head of one of France’s largest unions announced “new mobilizations” following the government’s forced passing of the reforms.
“By resorting to [constitutional article] 49.3, the government demonstrates that it does not have a majority to approve the two-year postponement of the legal retirement age. The political compromise failed. It is the workers who must be listened to when we claim to act on their work,” tweeted Laurent Berger, head of the CFDT, one of the unions leading the protests.
Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT trade union, also called for more strikes and protests, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.
A large crowd of peaceful protesters gathered in Paris’ Place de la Concorde following the prime minister’s announcement.