Emmanuel Macron expressed on Wednesday the wish that the unpopular pension reform come into force by the end of the year, excluding any backsliding on this emblematic text while saying that he understood the “legitimate anger” of the French and by extending his hand to unions.
The intervention of the Head of State, expected for weeks, did not immediately produce the appeasement effect expected by the Elysée, the CGT and especially the CFDT castigating “contempt” and “lie” on his part, while the opposition redoubled its criticisms.
The presidential decision to use article 49.3 to pass the pension reform at all costs angered opponents and trade union organizations as well as protesters who turned violent. “This text will continue on its democratic path,” said Emmanuel Macron immediately, when questioned on TF1 and France 2 live from the Elysée winter garden.
The president reiterated his wish to see the reform “enter into force by the end of the year”, after its examination by the Constitutional Council, in order, he added, to allow an increase in pensions for 1 .8 million pensioners. This reform, which notably postpones the legal retirement age from 62 to 64, is “not a pleasure or a luxury” but a “necessity”, insisted the Head of State.
“Does it make me happy to make this reform? No.” “We must move forward because it is the best interest of the Nation (…) If it is necessary to endorse the unpopularity in the country I will endorse it”, he added.
In this eruptive social climate, the president explained a controversial sentence pronounced Tuesday evening before the parliamentarians of the majority.
“The riot does not prevail over the representatives of the people and the crowd, whatever it is, has no legitimacy against the people who express themselves sovereign through their elected officials,” he said. , according to a recording heard by Reuters. On TF1 and France 2, the Head of State explained that he was not speaking of the French who demonstrated at the call of the unions, but of the “factious” who resort to violence, in particular against the elected representatives of his majority. .
“We cannot accept either factions or rebels,” he said. “We will not tolerate any overflow.” Emmanuel Macron nevertheless assured to hear the “legitimate anger expressed in a republican framework” and said he wanted to provide “an answer” via a resumption of dialogue with the social partners.
“I would like us to re-engage with the social partners on very concrete subjects,” he said, citing in particular professional wear and tear, career endings and low wages.
“We must put social dialogue back on the ground so that careers make it possible to earn a better living,” he added. He asked the government to work on a system establishing an “exceptional contribution” from companies to their employees when they make large profits.
Unions reject outstretched hand
For now, the intersyndicale is not willing to turn the page on pension reform, with a ninth day of massive mobilization scheduled for Thursday. Emmanuel Macron said he regretted that “no union force has offered a compromise” on the pension reform, provoking a strong reaction from the leader of the CFDT.
“Denial and lie!” Stormed Laurent Berger on Twitter. “The CFDT has a pension reform project. Macron 2023 remakes history and lies about the CFDT to hide its inability to find a majority to vote for its unjust reform.”
Denial and lie! The CFDT has a pension reform project.
Macron 2019 had understood it, he had taken up our ambition for a universal system.
Macron 2023 remakes history and lies about @cfdt to hide his inability to find a majority to vote for his unjust reform
— Laurent Berger (@CfdtBerger) March 22, 2023
The secretary general of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, for his part denounced a “lunar” speech and a “contempt” of the demonstrators. Saying to refuse “immobility”, the Head of State renewed his confidence in Elisabeth Borne, to whom he asked “to enlarge the majority as much as possible” in the weeks to come.
“She has my confidence to lead this government team, (…) to build a legislative program to have fewer laws, shorter, clearer texts,” he said, promising concrete measures on the health, education, ecology or even immigration.
The task of the Prime Minister promises to be complicated in the face of an opposition less and less inclined to associate itself with the executive, like the deputy Les Républicains (LR) Pierre-Henri Dumont, who voted for the motion to censorship against the advice of his party leaders.
“There is a great danger of signing a government agreement with Emmanuel Macron,” he said on BFMTV. “If tomorrow there is no longer a non-populist opposition to Emmanuel Macron in the country, in 2027 we will have either Mrs. Le Pen or Mr. Mélenchon at the Elysee Palace.”
The criticism was unsurprisingly even more virulent at the two extremes of the Hemicycle, Marine Le Pen (National Rally) castigating an “empty speech” and the “contempt for the French” of the Head of State. “If the Prime Minister had any political sense, she would leave on her own.
His authority is ruined and his future action illusory,” she hammered to the press at the National Assembly.
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