The debate never ends as the home stretch draws closer for pension reform. After several days of social mobilization, the French have not, for the time being, convinced the government to temporarily suspend the examination of the pension reform or to carry out a rewrite. At the same time, the deputies failed to reach an agreement during fifteen days of heated discussions in the National Assembly and the outcome of the vote seems more than uncertain. While the Senate has just adopted the emblematic article 7 shifting the legal retirement age from 62 to 64, the text must return to the National Assembly in a week. To take the opposite view of deputies unable to agree, will the government resort to article 49.3?
In a week, the text of the pension reform will re-enter the National Assembly to experience a vote which promises to be under high tension. If the Senate, mainly on the right, rallied on the side of the executive for this controversial reform, nothing guarantees a favorable and serene vote on the side of the deputies. Indeed, the fifteen days of debates spent in the National Assembly were experienced as a complex period, where the opinions of each other had great difficulty in being heard and respected. Difficult, under these conditions, to envisage an easy vote and especially an agreement between deputies.
To solve this thorny problem, the government could finally have recourse to article 49.3, a constitutional weapon which would allow it to adopt the text without going through the vote of the deputies. As a reminder, in this case, Elisabeth Borne, the Prime Minister, could, according to the French Constitution, “engage the responsibility of the Government before the National Assembly”. The project would then be “considered adopted, unless a motion of censure, tabled within the following twenty-four hours, is voted on under the conditions provided for in the preceding paragraph”.
While the government has already used article 49.3 on several occasions, the possibility of such a coup is on everyone’s mind. In the absence of an absolute majority, it is thus the right which must unite to have the text voted on and bring around forty votes to the executive.
Despite the support of senators, the group is very divided in the National Assembly. As BFMTV reports, “a small handful are still undecided and could turn to abstention”. If Elisabeth Borne has tried, for her part, to be open to negotiations by creating arrangements for long careers or by accepting the proposal for a surcharge for mothers, the road still seems long towards a favorable vote.
In the ranks of the majority, doubts are also more visible. Several deputies, including former minister Barbara Pompili, have thus expressed their reluctance on the vote on this pension reform. To resolve this situation, the majority thus decreed that each deputy who would vote against or abstain would be expelled from the party.
As for the members of Horizons, nothing has yet been decided either since relations between the two groups have deteriorated considerably in recent weeks with the rejection of two bills. It remains to be seen whether the government will choose a forced passage which could cost it, for good, the confidence of the French.