France Pensions: Government forces reforms, sparking parliamentary outrage


The French government has forced controversial plans to raise the retirement age through Parliament, a move likely to provoke more protests and strikes.

The National Assembly – the country’s lower house of parliament – erupted into chaotic scenes as French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne fought to be heard as MPs called for the government’s resignation.

“We cannot bet on the future of our pensions,” said Borne. “This reform is necessary.”

Lawmakers in France’s lower house were due to vote on the bill on Thursday afternoon. However, the meeting was broken off prematurely because of Borne’s announcement.

The government does not have enough support to pass the law in the House of Commons, but a clause in France’s constitution means it can legislate without an absolute majority.

Borne singled out far-right lawmakers in the lower house for not backing the law, which was passed by the French Senate on Thursday.

In response to Borne’s move, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party, called for the Prime Minister’s resignation.

“Following the slap the Prime Minister just gave the French people by pushing through a reform they don’t want, I think Elisabeth Borne should go,” Le Pen tweeted on Thursday.

Massive protests have been taking place regularly across France since mid-January, with millions opposing the government’s plan to raise the official retirement age for most workers, which is part of wider reforms to the state pension system, one of the most generous in Europe.

Legislation requires French citizens to work until the age of 64 (up from the current age of 62) to be entitled to a full state pension.

The leader of one of France’s largest unions announced “new mobilizations” following the government’s forced passage of the reforms.

“By resorting to [constitutional article] 49.3 the Government demonstrates that it does not have a majority to agree to the two-year postponement of the statutory retirement age. The political compromise failed. It’s the workers who need to be listened to when we claim to be responsive to their jobs,” tweeted Laurent Berger, leader of the CFDT, one of the unions leading the protests.

Philippe Martinez, leader of the CGT union, also called for more strikes and protests, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.

A large crowd of peaceful protesters gathered at the Place de la Concorde in Paris following the Prime Minister’s announcement.

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