France’s top constitutional body was expected to rule on Friday whether President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age passes muster, a decision that could calm or further anger opponents of the measure.
All eyes were on the heavily guarded Constitutional Council, which could veto all or parts of a complex pension reform plan that Macron pushed through without a vote by the lower house of parliament. Security forces stood behind a metal fence in front of the building where the decision was being taken.
Spontaneous demonstrations were expected around France ahead of the decision of the nine-member council. Opponents of pension reform blocked entry points to some cities, including Rouen in the west or Marseille in the south, causing traffic to slow or stop.
French pension reform protesters disrupt President Emmanuel Macron’s speech in the Netherlands
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne was interrupted by a group of people while visiting a supermarket outside Paris, chanting “We don’t want this,” referring to the way lawmakers undermine the vote to push pension reform .
The government’s decision to obtain a parliamentary vote in March by using special constitutional powers only fueled the measure’s opponents as well as their determination. Another group was waiting for Bourne in the parking lot.
“We are in a democracy, so everyone can express themselves,” the prime minister told news station BFM TV. “My priority is to bring peace” and address concrete concerns, she said. She went to the store to discuss anti-inflationary measures.
The president’s campaign to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 has sparked months of labor strikes and protests. Violence by pockets of far-left radicals marked 12 otherwise peaceful nationwide marches organized by unions since January.
French workers take to the streets to protest against raising the retirement age by two years
In addition to ruling on pension reforms, the Constitutional Council will also decide on requests from lawmakers who oppose plans to use a short-and-long process that could eventually lead to a referendum on the legal retirement age proposal. Is. over 62.
Council members can reject the pension law in whole or in part. Any clause they conclude is constitutional should be promulgated into law, whether or not the council also accepts the referendum request.
Union leaders have said that the decisions of the body will be respected. However, eight unions sent a “General Declaration” to the Constitutional Council stating their position.
The left-wing CGT union said on Friday that it had filed “more precise observations” with the council. The union said that “the government hijacked the parliamentary process” by wrapping the pension reform plan into a bill to finance Social Security, thus allowing it to advance the measure without a vote.
“The Constitutional Council can only condemn this cruel and unfair reform,” the union said in a statement.
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Unions have vowed to continue protest action in an effort to get Macron to withdraw the measure.
“Unless this reform is rolled back, mobilization will continue in one form or another,” CGT chief Sophie Binet said on Thursday.
The leader of the liberal CFDT, Laurent Berger, warned that “there will be consequences” if the Constitutional Council gives the go-ahead to the French government.
Polls have consistently shown that a majority of French citizens are opposed to working two more years before being able to receive pension benefits.
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