The upper house of the French Parliament, the Senate, approved the progressive increase of the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 years. According to the reform of the pension system proposed by Emmanuel Macron, the increase in this threshold will be four months a year, from September of this year, until 2030.
It is the most controversial measure of the reform and passed in the Senate with the votes of The Republicans, who have a majority, and with opposition from the entire left. In total, 201 senators voted in favor and 115 against.
Voting took place around midnight on Thursday (11 pm on Wednesday in mainland Portugal), after nearly 24 hours of debate and the day after a general strike that reportedly took between 1.28 and 3.5 million French to the streets in protest.
This approval is not yet the final step in the legislative process. The Senate has to discuss and vote on the remaining articles of the law by Sunday and, after that, there will be a concertation session with the lower house of Parliament, the National Assembly, where the final text will return to be voted on again.
If there is no agreement, and since the Republican deputies seem less willing than the senators to vote in favor, the Government can resort to a constitutional article that allows it to pass a law without a parliamentary vote. But the reform could also come into effect by decree if the legal deadline for parliamentary discussion runs out before deputies vote. That deadline ends on March 26.
The trade union centrals scheduled for next Saturday a new day to contest the reform and another for March 15th, the day on which the commission of senators and deputies meets with a view to agreeing on the final text.
Already this Thursday morning, eight trade union confederations and various associations representing youth disclosed on BFMTV television a letter they sent to Emmanuel Macron, asking him for an urgent meeting.
“All opinion studies show that the population, and particularly the active population, is largely opposed to this reform project”, they argue in the missive, recalling the dimension of the street demonstrations – and accusing: “You and your Government maintain remain silent before the expression of this expressive social movement. For our organizations, this lack of response constitutes a serious democratic problem, which inevitably leads to a situation that can become explosive.”