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Macron’s Pension Reforms Face Opposition in France

French President Emmanuel Macron has been pushing for changes to the country’s pension system since he was elected in 2017. Macron’s pension reforms have been a key part of his agenda as a way to shore up the financial position of a graying society and keep France competitive. The plans would gradually raise the retirement age, with the new minimum of 64 years expected to be reached by 2030.[0] The right-leaning Senate has adopted the reform with 195 in favor and 112 against the measure.[1]

Despite a majority of the French people not wanting the retirement age to change, Macron has stood by the reforms and the Senate recently voted to adopt the reform.[2] Surveys indicate that as many as 70% of French citizens are against the alterations, yet a survey conducted by Ifop discovered that 71% are accepting of the bill passing.[3] The government has proposed that the minimum general retirement age will rise from 62 to 64, some public sector workers will lose privileges and there will be an accelerated increase in the number of years of work required to qualify for a full pension.[4]

In response to the vote, thousands of people have taken to the streets in opposition to the move and French labor unions have called for a “powerful day of strikes and demonstrations” on Wednesday.[1] More than 6,000 tonnes of rubbish have built up in Paris as municipal waste collectors extended their walkout into a second week and the energy sector has also been hit hard.[5]

The French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has stated that the move was a “decisive step to bring about a reform that will ensure the future of our pensions.”[2] However, the public has not embraced the changes, with France entering its seventh-straight day of massive protests and labor strikes in opposition to the pension change.[2] The government has vowed not to use executive action to pass the reform, but it remains to be seen if the mass protests and strikes can be enough to derail the bill.

0. “Traffic, fuel, rubbish: France braces for yet another pension strike” The Connexion, 14 Mar. 2023, https://www.connexionfrance.com/article/French-news/Traffic-fuel-rubbish-France-braces-for-yet-another-pension-strike

1. “French Senate adopts pension reform as street protests continue” POLITICO Europe, 12 Mar. 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/france-senate-pension-reform-labor-unions-protests-retirement-age-elisabeth-borne-emmanuel-macron/

2. “French Senate passes unpopular pension reforms despite mass protests” The Week, 12 Mar. 2023, https://theweek.com/france/1021727/french-senate-passes-unpopular-pension-reforms-despite-mass-protests

3. “French Senate approves pension reform plan ahead of National Assembly vote” RFI English, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20230316-uncertainty-as-french-parliament-casts-final-vote-on-pension-reform

4. “Why are pensions such a political flashpoint in France?” The Guardian, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/16/why-are-pensions-such-a-political-flashpoint-in-france-macron

5. “French unions urge show of force as Macron's pension overhaul nears finale” CNA, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/french-union-urge-show-force-strike-protest-emmanuel-macron-pension-overhaul-3348546

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