French PM Philippe pushes through controversial pension reforms without vote
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe pushed through the Macron government’s controversial pension reforms without a parliamentary vote on Saturday, after the opposition filed more than 40,000 amendments to the draft law.
After nearly thirteen days of often fractious debate in France’s National Assembly, Philippe explained this surprise move by telling MPs that he needed to “put an end to this episode of non-debate” with opponents of the bill, and to “allow the rest of the legislative process to take place”.
The bill will become law unless the National Assembly votes through a censure motion within three days, but it would be unlikely to pass, because President Emmanuel Macron's La République En Marche enjoys a sizeable majority.
The legal instrument Philippe used to force the bill through parliament – Article 49.3 of the French constitution – was created by Charles de Gaulle, the founding father of the Fifth Republic, to allow strong government. Philippe described it as a "means, offered to the government by the constitution, to get parliament out of a rut", in an interview with French TV station TF1 on Saturday evening.
France's unions have been up in arms over these plans to merge the country’s 42 different retirement schemes into a single points-based system.
Public transport workers walked off the job for a month and a half in December and January, causing travel misery for millions, particularly in the Paris area.
The government argues that the changes are necessary to make the system fairer for all, while reining in France’s budget deficit over the long term. However, critics say they will force most French people to work longer for smaller payouts.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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