French government doubles down on pension reforms

French government spokesman Olivier Veran said on Sunday (March 12) that the government will not give up on its pension reform bill. The bill was adopted at the French senate on Saturday amid nationwide protests against the reforms.

One hundred and ninety-five members of the upper house of the French Parliament voted for the text, whose key measure is raising the retirement age by two years to 64, while 112 voted against.

“We have made an important step,” Veran said, vowing to continue consultations with political parties to get the law passed by both houses of parliament in the coming week.

Protests and rolling strikes that have affected refineries, public transport and garbage collections aimed to pressure the government to withdraw the pension plan, which it said is essential to ensure the pension system does not run out of money.

Now that the Senate has adopted the bill, it will be reviewed by a joint committee of lower and upper house lawmakers, probably on Wednesday (March 15).

If the committee agrees on a text, a final vote in both chambers is likely to take place on Thursday (March 16), but the outcome of that still seems uncertain in the lower chamber, the National Assembly, where Macron’s party needs allies’ votes for a majority.

If the government fears it won’t have enough votes in the lower house, it is still possible for it to push the text through without a parliamentary vote, via a so-called 49:3 procedure.

(With inputs from agencies)

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