Macron’s pension reform is a mess -Dlight News

Macron's pension reform is a mess

Emmanuel Macron rolled the dice on reforming France’s cracking pension system. His gamble hangs in the balance. Set against a backdrop of protests, where two-thirds of the population are against the president’s plan, his minority government has resorted to sidelining a parliamentary vote that Macron had calculated he would lose. Changes are needed to plug the pension deficit in a country with an aging population. But the way Macron has tried to push through reforms leaves the president and France with a democratic deficit.

In triggering the special constitutional power, Macron has bet that his government’s chances of surviving the no-confidence vote that will now follow are greater than the chances of winning parliamentary support for his reforms in the usual fashion. The credibility of his second term as president rests on his calculations. He must hope that he is more accurate than his assessment that he can count on conservative Les Républiques to help him.

The likelihood is that the no-confidence vote scheduled for Monday will fail, and his amendments will pass. But it should not come to this. Overhauling France’s generous pension system has always been notoriously difficult. A strike was inevitable. Macron is also no stranger to using the power, known as Article 49.3, which can bypass parliamentary votes: his government has used it 10 times before. But the degree of unease across the country over the plans, already watered down but which protesters accuse of being unfair to blue-collar workers, shows that Macron underestimated the scale of his opposition. Millions of people have felt the need to protest since January. The industrial action dumped 10,000 tons of waste on the streets of Paris and reduced production at nuclear reactors.

Macron failed to convince both voters and parliamentarians of the necessity of his vision; Something important since he lost his parliamentary majority last year. His high-handed approach to forcing that vision on the country – whatever its merits – now risks turning uneasiness into unrest, potentially on the scale of 2018. gilets jaunes Protests that marred his first term.

Macron is right that France needs to reform its pay-as-you-go pension system and that more people need to work to help fund public services. France’s pensioners are expected to grow from 16 million to 21 million by 2050. Meanwhile, its cumulative public debt is over 113 percent of gross domestic product. The president’s reforms would raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64, bringing it more in line with its EU neighbors and requiring 43 years of work to qualify for a full pension.

Yet Macron’s method of pursuing the right policy makes little political sense. After winning the necessary votes in the Senate last week, he should let the bill go to the National Assembly for a vote. A failed vote would have signaled that he needed to reassess and redesign his overhaul.

In the short term, the fate of their prime minister, Elizabeth Bourne, is uncertain. But there are broader questions for the long term. Les Républiques has long supported and campaigned for pension reform. If Macron cannot be trusted with a majority even after significant compromises, what hope can there be for other ambitions for the rest of his presidency until 2027? Not much. And this threatens its broader legacy, which has otherwise made France more competitive. Macron promised a more consensual, less top-down style of French politics. Trying to force through his reforms, he eventually weakens.

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