France: Macron Pushes Through Retirement Reform

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. March 21, 2023
The Eiffel Tower and French flag

[This article has been updated.]

​French President Emmanuel Macron applied a special constitutional power on March 16 to bypass parliament and enact a controversial pensions bill raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Constitutional Power Invoked

Macron decided to invoke the special power during a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace just a few minutes before the scheduled vote in France's lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, because he had no guarantee of a majority in the lower house on the retirement overhaul. The Senate had passed the bill.


Shouts of 'Resign'

France's Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne invoked the special procedure before the National Assembly, triggering boos and shouts of "Resign!" The session was suspended for two minutes after left-wing lawmakers sang the national anthem and prevented Borne from speaking. When the session resumed, Borne took the floor but her speech was largely drowned out by boos and chants. "We cannot gamble on the future of our pensions. This reform is necessary," she said. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said Borne should resign.


Votes of No Confidence Fail

Both Le Pen's National Rally and the left-wing France Unbowed have said they would hold votes of no confidence in the government, but two no-confidence votes failed in the French parliament. Lawmakers are unlikely to vote in a majority to dissolve the National Assembly and hold new elections, according to Renaud Foucart, a senior lecturer in economics at Lancaster University in Lancaster, U.K. The measure may go to the constitutional court and then become law. Macron's government has already survived one no-confidence vote after it used special constitutional powers to pass the 2023 budget.

(CNBC) and (CNN)

No Parliamentary Majority

Macron is 10 months into his second five-year term and has lacked an absolute parliamentary majority since last summer.

(The Washington Post)

Other Countries in Europe Have Raised Retirement Age

French Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt noted that other countries in Europe have recently increased their retirement age. Workers in Spain and Germany will retire at age 67 by 2027 and 2031, respectively.

(The Wall Street Journal and SHRM Online)



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