The French government is currently facing a critical moment as lawmakers prepare to vote on two no-confidence motions, one from the far-right National Rally and the other from a small left-wing group that has gained support. The motions were filed in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to use special powers to pass a controversial bill that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, without giving lawmakers a vote on the matter.
The National Assembly is set to vote on the motions later today, and the outcome is uncertain due to the ongoing protests and strikes that have been sparked by Macron’s pension reforms. While the motions are considered unlikely to succeed, the protests and tensions in the political arena make the result uncertain.
Last week, the Senate, which is dominated by conservatives who support the retirement plan, passed the legislation. If the no-confidence motions fail to pass, the bill will become law. However, if a majority agrees, it would lead to the end of the retirement reform plan and force the government to resign, with a new Cabinet appointed in its place.
The current government, led by Macron’s centrist alliance, still has the most seats in the National Assembly. While a minority of lawmakers from the Republicans party could potentially stray from the party line, it is unclear whether they are willing to bring down Macron’s government.
The protests and strikes that have been taking place in various sectors, from transport to energy and sanitation workers, have been causing disruptions across the country. In Paris, garbage is piling up on the streets due to a 15-day strike by collectors, which has blocked the three main incinerators serving the city, as well as a garbage sorting center northwest of Paris. Refineries that supply gas stations are also partially blocked, and Transport Minister Clement Beaune has said that he will take action if necessary to ensure that fuel still gets out.
Unions, which are demanding that the retirement bill be withdrawn entirely, have called for new nationwide protests on Thursday.
If the no-confidence motions fail, the retirement bill will become law, but if a majority agrees, it could spell the end of Macron’s government and have significant implications for the remainder of his second term, which ends in 2027. The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, who has been the target of opposition fury, will have to defend herself before lawmakers later today.