The French government on Sunday maintained its position on a hotly contested pension reform that passed parliament without a vote, a day before facing a major no-confidence motion.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said of the two efforts to dismiss the cabinet scheduled for Monday afternoon, “There will not be a majority to overthrow the government, but it will be a moment of truth.
“I understand the public’s fears and anxieties, but denial of economic realities will never make things better,” he told the daily Le Parisien.
Monday’s two no-confidence motions were introduced by a small group of centrist lawmakers and a far-right national rally.
Although President Emmanuel Macron’s camp does not have an absolute majority in the National Assembly, it is the largest group, requiring all opposition parties to unite to pass one of the votes.
Most conservative Republican lawmakers are not expected to support the no-confidence motion.
Republican Chief of Staff Eric Ciotti wrote on Twitter on Sunday that his precinct office had a rock thrown overnight.
“The killers who did this want to pressure my vote on Monday,” Ciotti wrote on Twitter, posting a photo showing smashed windows and threatening graffiti.
He has previously said he would not “add chaos to chaos” by ousting the government.
– “What’s left?” –
The government’s decision Thursday to appeal to Article 49(3) of the constitution (allowing the bill to be forced through parliament without a vote) sparked outrage in the streets after weeks of largely peaceful protests and strikes against the plan. Caused.
Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt told JDD Weekly, “While I didn’t admit failure, I am heartbroken that the nuclear option was used to pass reforms.”
On Saturday, police closed the Reichstag building opposite Place de la Concorde in Paris, after two nights of consecutive clashes, followed by demonstrations.
About 122 people were arrested as they set fire to garbage bins, vandalized bus stops and erected makeshift barricades around a strong demonstration of 4,000 people in the capital.
They accounted for the majority of 169 arrests across the country on Saturday.
Demonstrations in other cities across France passed peacefully, with hundreds taking part in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille.
“What have we left but to continue demonstrating?” Romain Morisot, a 33-year-old telecoms engineer, said at a Marseille protest rally, predicting “social tensions” over the reforms. .
“There is great dissatisfaction and a majority of people who oppose this law. Our president keeps moving forward and changing his case,” far-left CGT union leader Philip Martinez said on Sunday at broadcaster BFM. told to
People close to Macron told AFP that the president was “of course following developments” on the ground.
– Refinery closure –
CGT, which is off the streets of major cities, said on Saturday that workers would close France’s largest oil refinery in Normandy, and warned on Monday that two more refineries could follow.
So far, strikers have only blocked fuel deliveries from refineries, but have not been able to completely shut down operations.
Industrial action has also halted garbage collection in much of Paris, with some 10,000 tonnes of garbage on the streets as the government forced some garbage collectors to return to work.
A ninth day of widespread strikes and protests is scheduled for Thursday.
President Macron’s reforms will raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 64, increasing the number of years people must pay into the scheme to receive their full pension.
The government says changes are necessary to avoid economic deficits in the coming decades linked to France’s aging population.
“Those of us who can, step by step, need to work harder to fund our social model, one of the most generous in the world.
Opponents, however, argue that the law places an unfair burden on low-income earners, women, and those in manual labor, and polls consistently show a majority opposing the amendment.
A poll of 2,000 people published on JDD Sunday showed Macron’s approval rating at 28%, the lowest since the mass “yellow vest” protests against a new fuel tax in 2019.
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/new-pension-protests-in-france-ahead-of-crucial-votes/news-story/64ca33f39d6c56afa0e8368faf4b602d French government opposes pensions ahead of crucial vote