Paris, March 16
France’s Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne used a special procedure to push an unpopular pensions Bill through the National Assembly without a vote on Thursday, triggering boos and shouts of “Resign!” in rare chaotic scenes in the French parliament.
The move will ensure the bill raising the retirement age by two years to 64 — which the government says is essential to ensure the pension system does not go bust — is adopted after weeks of protests and fractious debate.
But it also shows President Emmanuel Macron and his government failed to garner a majority in parliament, in a blow to the centrist president and his ability to win support from other parties for further reforms.
Borne was greeted by boos and jeers as she arrived in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, to announce that she would invoke article 49.3 of the constitution to skip a vote on the reform measures.
The session was suspended for two minutes after left-wing lawmakers singing the national anthem prevented Borne from speaking. Some held placards reading “No to 64 years”. When the session resumed, Borne took the floor but her speech was largely drowned out by the same boos and chants.
“We cannot gamble on the future of our pensions, this reform is necessary,” Borne told lawmakers, to explain why she was using the 49.3 procedure.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said Borne should resign.
“This last-minute resort to 49.3 is an extraordinary sign of weakness,” she said, adding: “She must go.” Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the hard-left France Insoumise (France Unbowed) called the move “a spectacular failure”.
“This bill has no parliamentary legitimacy, no legitimacy from the street,”he said at a protest rally outside parliament. — Reuters
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