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Pension reforms are always particularly divisive social issues. This year, the one desired by the government provides in particular for a postponement of the legal age of departure from 62 to 64 years. Faced with this, unions and oppositions mobilized to block and prevent the executive from implementing its project. For its part, the majority tries, somehow, to convince the French of the merits of their reform. But, on the front of the battle of opinion, the ranks of Emmanuel Macron are in difficulty.

This is not the first time that the President of the Republic finds himself in this type of situation. During his previous mandate, the Head of State had indeed planned to carry out a pension reform which, too, had faced significant challenges.

But the philosophies of Emmanuel Macron’s two reforms are very different. In line with his 2017 campaign promises, the first-term reform was not to raise the legal retirement age, a measure which, in his words at the time, “would be quite hypocritical”.

At the time, the president was defending a completely different reform which aimed to switch to a points system. The pension should then no longer be calculated on the best 25 years of career, but on a set of points accumulated during professional life, explains BFMTV.

This project had even been adopted by the National Assembly in February 2020 thanks to article 49-3 of the Constitution, then activated by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. But a few weeks later, the spread of Covid-19 in France led the government to announce containment and, at the same time, suspend all the reforms in progress. The reform will ultimately never be voted on in the Senate.

In the weeks to come, the government may well encounter obstacles in getting its new project adopted. But if he found himself at an impasse, could the first reform make a comeback, having already been adopted at the Palais Bourbon?

If the government wanted to dust off this 3-year-old reform to submit it to the vote of the Senate, it seems that, legally speaking, nothing could prevent it. “Where in the National Assembly, all the texts which have not been voted on at the end of the mandate disappear, the Senate is a permanent assembly. If tomorrow, someone wishes to reactivate the examination of the bill on the reform pensions, it is quite possible”, explains Jean-Philippe Derosier, professor of public law at the University of Lille, with BFMTV.

If legally this situation is quite possible, is it from a strategic point of view for the Head of State?

The return of this text to the Senate could be done at the initiative of the upper house itself, but also at the request of the government? In either case, this option seems highly unlikely. “I do not see why the Senate would want to take up this text. And I see even less why the government would present a bill for which it would be very surprising if it had the majority of senators”, underlines Benjamin Morel, lecturer in public law at Panthéon-Assas University, with our colleagues.

In addition, the project that the government is carrying out today is very different from that of the previous mandate and no longer corresponds in all respects to what the majority is defending today. Such a maneuver could also accentuate the government’s unpopularity with the French.