OAN Geraldyn Berry
UPDATED 6:00 PM – Friday, April 14, 2023
The divisive proposal to raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 64 was approved by the Constitutional Council on Friday, giving President Emmanuel Macron a triumph after months of widespread demonstrations that have weakened his authority.
The move horrified or infuriated pension plan critics. Hundreds of union members and others peacefully assembled in Paris on Friday night before some groups split off to march toward the famous Bastille Plaza and beyond, torching trash cans and scooters while being repelled by police with tear gas.
Unions and Macron’s political rivals promised to keep up the pressure on the government to drop the measure, while activists warned Saturday protests in small groups.
According to Macron’s administration, he will enact the bill soon, and he has stated that he wants it to take effect by the end of the year. The decision announced on Friday, according to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, “marks the end of the institutional and democratic path of this reform,” she added that “no victor” had emerged from what had become a national impasse and the biggest social upheaval to hit France in years.
The higher age was a key component of Macron’s plan and the focus of protestors’ ire, even if the council rejected several of the pension bill’s other provisions. The administration said that the reform is necessary to maintain the pension system as the population ages; opponents suggested levying higher taxes on the wealthy or employers in its place and claimed the measures jeopardize a hard-won social safety net.
The council rejected a request from left-wing MPs to permit a potential vote on making 62 the maximum legal retirement age in a separate but related decision. Next month, the council will decide on a second, related proposal.
Macron summoned labor unions to a meeting on Tuesday regardless of the Constitutional Council’s ruling as tensions grew in the hours leading up to the vote, according to his office. The unions rebuffed Macron’s invitation and announced large-scale new rallies for May 1st, International Workers’ Rights Day, pointing out that he had already turned down their invitations to a meeting.
The government’s use of special constitutional powers to circumvent a parliamentary vote in March only fueled the opposition’s rage and determination. Borne waited in the parking lot with another group.
Union leaders have pledged to continue their rallies in an effort to persuade Macron to reverse the decision, saying they will respect the Constitutional Council’s rulings.
According to surveys, the majority of French people reject having to work two more years before receiving pension benefits. Among other modifications to the system, the legislation makes it necessary for people to work for 43 years before they may get a full pension.
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