FRANCE: Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, has signed into law his administration’s widely unpopular pension reforms, which will raise the state pension age by two years, from 62 to 64, sparking mass protests.
The proclamation of the legislation came after France’s Constitutional Council on Friday authorised the primary pension-age rise, following months of protests against the proposal, which the government rammed through parliament without a final vote.
The law, which would gradually raise the eligibility age for a state pension from 62 to 64, is extremely controversial, and when the Constitutional Council’s judgement was announced, protests quickly erupted.
On Friday night, crowds marched through Paris while several trash cans were set on fire in Rennes, a city in France’s northwest. In Paris, a police station’s entrance was also set on fire.
Despite the Constitutional Council’s approval, trade unions encouraged the government not to pass the legislation on Friday. They urged employees to march in large numbers on May 1 in honour of Labour Day. They also refused an invitation from Macron to meet on Tuesday.
The president has placed his reputation as a reformer on the pension reforms, which he claims are necessary to prevent billions of euros in annual deficits by the end of the decade.
He visited Notre-Dame on the anniversary of a blaze that destroyed the renowned Paris cathedral and said, “Never give up, that’s my motto,” on Friday before the Constitutional Council’s decision. The government intends to implement the new law from September 1.
A lawyer from the left-wing LFI party, Francois Ruffin, tweeted accusing the government of announcing the pension law like “thieves in the night.”
After the Constitutional Council on Friday rejected a first such request, opposition parties have put out another attempt to hold a citizen referendum on the reform.
The pension system is a key component of France’s beloved social protection paradigm, and trade unions contend that additional financing may be found in other places, such as by taxing the wealthy more severely.
Public opposition to the reform has grown since the government, which lacks a majority in parliament, passed the bill in March without a final vote using extraordinary constitutional powers.