(Paris) The French government stepped up to the plate on Sunday to defend the decried decision to force through pension reform, on the eve of a “moment of truth” where it will have to overcome two motions of censure in the National Assembly .
Since the executive activated article 49-3 of the Constitution on Thursday to have this text adopted without a vote, the anger has not subsided among opponents of the reform, who have been mobilized since mid-January against the passage from 62 to 64 years of retirement age.
Denouncing a “denial of democracy”, demonstrators gathered again on Saturday in several cities in France, notably in Paris where brief clashes broke out with the police during the evening.
Incidents had already occurred in the capital on Thursday and Friday evening on the huge Place de la Concorde, near the National Assembly, which the authorities have since closed to demonstrators.
Weakened by the protest, the government led by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne tried on Sunday to unite on the eve of a day when it will play for its survival.
Two motions of censure will be examined Monday in the National Assembly, where the presidential party Renaissance holds a relative majority.
In the case, arithmetically unlikely, where one of these two motions would be adopted, the government would be dismissed and the project on pensions postponed.
“It will be a moment of truth. Is pension reform worth yes or no, the fall of the government and political disorder? The answer is clearly “no”, certified the Minister of the Economy and heavyweight of the government, Bruno Le Maire, in the daily Le Parisien.
On the front line on the pension file, the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt assured him that he did not believe in a union of left, right and far-right oppositions around a motion of censure.
“For that, it would have to bring together a coalition of ‘against’, ‘anti’, to obtain a very heterogeneous majority without a common political line”, he estimated in the columns of the Sunday newspaper, again defending a reform aimed, according to him, at saving the “pension system”.
On the left, the opposition is seeking to project itself beyond Monday in order to avoid demobilization in the event of the rejection of motions of censure, which would be synonymous with the adoption of the reform.
“The fight will continue regardless of the result,” assured Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the radical left party La France insoumise (LFI), on RTL radio.
“I will never say that the mobilization must be stopped, as long as the reform at 64 is proposed, it must continue,” he insisted as a united labor front called for a ninth day of action on Thursday .
Whatever the outcome of the procedure on Monday, the executive has already left feathers in this crisis.
The boss of the deputies of the presidential party Aurore Bergé admitted on Sunday that this passage in force could have been badly experienced in public opinion and that it will be necessary to “rebuild the link” with the French.
Sign of the tensions, the permanence of the leader of the right-wing opposition party Les Républicains, Éric Ciotti, was stoned overnight from Saturday to Sunday in Nice (South) to push him to vote for the motion of censure.
Other pro-reform parliamentarians have also been targeted, raising fears of violent actions against them.
On the social front, several key sectors of the economy remain disrupted, particularly in transport, waste collection and fuel supply.
The largest refinery in the country, located in Normandy (North-West) and operated by TotalEnergies, has thus begun to be shut down by opponents and other sites could follow this unprecedented movement since the start of the mobilization.