The centrist leader wants to merge France’s myriad pension schemes into a single, points-based system; a move his critics say will force millions of people to work longer for less.
French opposition lawmaker Ugo Bernalicis on Monday warned Emmanuel Macron against forcing his unpopular pension bill through parliament by decree, saying the president would be signing his own political death warrant if he went down that path.
Ramming the legislation through by decree would be “a serious political mistake … one Mr Macron would pay for dearly,” Mr Bernalicis, of the far-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party, told France Info radio.
“If Mr Macron invokes article 49-3, it will be game over for him in 2022,” he said in reference to the upcoming presidential race.
The option to push legislation through by decree is made possible by a rarely used clause in France’s constitution, known as 49-3.
But its use is highly controversial and likely to reignite public anger.
Mr Macron’s planned overhaul of the country’s complex and costly pension system sparked weeks of union-led strikes and protests, but the fight to derail his project has now shifted from the street to parliament.
Lawmakers began debating the plan last week in the National Assembly, where 41,000 amendments to the bill have been filed, more than half of them by the left and far-left.
Mr Macron’s ruling La République en Marche (LREM) party says the amendments are a deliberate attempt to stall the bill’s passage through parliament.
Asked during Tuesday’s parliamentary session whether the government would use the path of forceful adoption and trigger article 49-3, prime minister Edouard Philippe said: “I have never criticised its use.”
Mr Philippe added that he would “fully accept” his “responsibilities” should the government revert to the so-called parliamentary “nuclear option”.
Mr Macron wants to streamline the existing set-up of 42 different pension schemes, each with their own level of benefits and contributions, into a single, points-based system that gives every pensioner the same rights for each euro contributed.
He had also planned to raise the age for full retirement by two years to 64, but eased off the move after the strikes, which began in early December and ran uninterrupted for six weeks.
Mr Macron, a former investment banker, insists the myriad pension schemes deter job mobility and that the reform is central to his drive to liberalise the labour market.
He also argues the new system will be fairer, more transparent and help plug a stubborn deficit.
But his opponents say the changes will force millions of people to work longer for a smaller retirement payout.
The centrist government is hoping to have the pension bill passed before the summer recess.
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