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French President Macron survives vote of no confidence after raising the retirement age


Protesters in France took to the streets again on Monday as the government of President Emmanuel Macron survived a vote of no confidence after raising the retirement age.

The vote came several days after Macron used constitutional power to force his controversial pension reform plan through without a vote in the National Assembly. As part of the new plan, the age for French workers to retire and collect their pension was raised from 62 to 64 years. Macron has argued that the change is necessary to keep the program strong and solvent.

While it was always considered a long shot because it would have required the cooperation of multiple factions across the political spectrum, had the vote of no confidence been successful, Macron would have been forced to resign. The maneuver would also have put an end to the new pension policy. However, he fell nine votes short of the 287 needed.

The narrow defeat showed how weak Macron and his allies are, opponents claimed on Monday.

“The prime minister (Elisabeth Borne) must resign, taking the reform with her,” said Mathilde Panot, parliamentary leader of the PCF, the French communist party.

Lawmaker and leader of the far-left group Mathilde Panot gestures as she speaks to the media during a protest against the retirement bill in Paris, Monday, March 20, 2023.

In Paris, protesters set fire to piles of uncollected rubbish as sanitation workers entered their third week of strike protesting the retirement change. In other parts of the city, riot police fired tear gas at protesters who gathered near the National Assembly.

In Rennes, a highway was closed when protesters started a fire that spread through several lanes of traffic.

Demonstrators chant slogans during a protest in Paris, Monday, March 20, 2023.

After the vote of no confidence failed, opposition political leaders and union leaders promised new legislation and more protests and strikes.

Air France has warned that 20% of its flights could be canceled as a result of work stoppages. Several unions are coordinating strikes and protests across the country by the end of this week in hopes of stopping France.

But few policy avenues appear to remain to prevent the retirement age from being raised.

One of the latest efforts could include an appeal to France’s constitutional council.

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