A text of “equity and progress”, “reform or bankruptcy”: the government tried to defend its very controversial pension project on Monday, at the opening of the debates in the National Assembly in a very hectic atmosphere. Series of points of order and suspension of the session delayed the speeches of the ministers in an overheated hemicycle where the oppositions scrapped on requests for a referendum on the government project, which provides for a lowering of the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old . It is “a reform of equity and progress which distributes the effort in a fair way”, affirmed the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt, ready to “go further” to improve the employment of seniors or women’s pensions. .
Olivier Dussopt called “sold”
The former socialist was heckled by the left, who called him “sold”. “You are showing favoritism for the rich,” rebuked the rebellious François Ruffin, referring to suspicions of favoritism targeting the minister in the award of a public contract when he was mayor in Ardèche. Following him, the Minister of Public Accounts Gabriel Attal stepped up to the plate against opponents of the project, calling on them to choose between “general interest” and “electoral interest”. “It’s reform or bankruptcy” of the pension system, he said, referring back to back the Nupes and its “tax canon”, and the RN, “camp of lies and privileges”.
The deputies rejected, by 292 votes against 243, and 3 abstentions, a motion to reject the entire bill brought by the rebels. Their boss Mathilde Panot castigated a reform which “aggravates the chaos” in society, without convincing all the opposition. The motion “nearly fails, the battle begins”, for Cyrielle Chatelain (EELV). In addition, the National Assembly on Monday evening rejected a request for a referendum from the RN to challenge the pension reform, in the early hours of the debate on the government bill. This referendum motion was rejected by 272 votes against 101. The left had deserted the hemicycle to denounce a “masquerade”, because the Nupes wanted another motion to be put to the vote: that of the left or that initiated during the day by the small independent group Liot.
“We are not in an amphitheater”
From the start of the session, other opposition parliamentarians demanded in turn that their own request for a referendum, filed in extremis, also be submitted. Charles de Courson, of the independent group Liot, on the initiative with representatives of six political groups, denounced “a denial of democracy”, joined by leaders of Nupes. The President of the Assembly Yaël Braun-Pivet did not follow up. The oppositions then protested loudly, causing a brief interruption of the session. “Do you think we are going to spend 15 days like that in the hemicycle”, asked the opposition Ms. Braun-Pivet. “We are not in an amphitheater, not in a demonstration”.
The planned two weeks of examination promise to be high risk on this flagship reform of Emmanuel Macron’s second five-year term, which only has a relative majority in the Assembly. With the approach of two days of action, Tuesday and Saturday at the call of the inter-union, the head of government Élisabeth Borne recognized again on Sunday that the decline in the legal age represented “a collective effort”.
A last minute giveaway
In a last minute concession, she announced that people who started working between the ages of 20 and 21 will be able to retire at 63, an extension of the long career scheme. Will this gesture be enough to obtain the crucial votes of the right? No, for Aurélien Pradié in particular, who points to a “deception” and asks to go further for those who started contributing early. “The auctions are starting to show the contradictions of LRs”, observes a government source. For her part, the patron saint of deputies RN Marine Le Pen mocks a “negotiation of carpet merchants” between the government and the right.
On the union side, Elisabeth Borne’s effort did not convince: a “patch” which “is not the” expected “response to the massive mobilization observed”, denounces Laurent Berger, boss of the CFDT.
A massive mobilization
The mobilization days of January 19 and 31 have already brought together more than a million demonstrators each time according to the police, more than two million according to the organizers. “We are counting on the fact that there are mobilizations so that the elected representatives of the Republic take into account the opinion of the citizens”, declared the secretary general of the CGT, Philippe Martinez. While the school holidays have started for zone A, traffic will be severely disrupted on Tuesday at SNCF and RATP. For the fourth day of mobilization on Saturday, the start of the holidays in zone B, the SNCF unions have decided not to call a strike so as not to penalize travelers.
Some 20,000 amendments were tabled by deputies on the bill, including 13,000 by LFI. If the Assembly does not come to the end of the amendments by midnight February 17, the text will pass to the Senate, because of the choice of the executive to resort to an amending budget of Social Security.
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