French president drops option to call new parliamentary elections if political groups unite to block pension reform
French President Emmanuel Macron has threatened to dissolve the National Assembly and call new parliamentary elections if pension reform debates fail and the opposition joins forces to file a motion of censure against Elisabeth Borne’s government, as revealed by the local press.
“If a motion of censure is passed, I will immediately dissolve,” Macron warned yesterday at a dinner at the Elysée Palace in front of several ministers and representatives of the presidential majority, the parties that support the president of the republic. “It’s a bluff, a threat, blackmail, what violence,” said Fabien Roussel, leader of the French Communist Party, before a referendum on pension reform, rather than calling new parliamentary elections.
The President’s threat to dissolve the National Assembly coincided with the first strike of the new political course in France. The strike in 200 cities received little support because it was only called by a part of the unions. The strikers demanded wage increases to offset inflation and protested pension reforms.
According to Article 12 of the French Constitution, “the President of the Republic may, after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Presidents of the Chambers, agree to the dissolution of the National Assembly.” This decision would automatically lead to new parliamentary elections in France. The elections were to be held between 20 and 40 days after the dissolution.
La France Insumisa, the party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the National Regrouping of Marine Le Pen (former Front National) are ready to propose a motion of censure if the government resorts to the famous Article 49.3 to approve the pension reform by decree without the vote of the National Assembly.
A minimum of 289 delegates are required to pass the motion of censure. Nupes – the alliance of left-wing parties – and the far right have 240 votes. To pass the vote of censure, they therefore need the support of Republicans, who have 62 seats. “If all opposition parties unite to pass a motion of censure and overthrow the government,” there would be new parliamentary elections and “the French would choose and decide what new majority they want,” the statement said. Minister of Employment, Olivier Dussopt.
Macron’s threat to dissolve the National Assembly if pension reform fails is aimed at the opposition, especially Republicans. If new elections are held, the reformist Conservative Party could have an even worse result than the June debacle.
Macron is also in danger if he dissolves the National Assembly. The last president to do so was Jacques Chirac in 1997. The left won those parliamentary elections and there was cohabitation with Lionel Jospin as prime minister. Currently, Macron’s party and its allies have a simple majority in the National Assembly, following the June parliamentary elections in which they lost an absolute majority.
The pension reform, which Macron parked in his first term in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 health crisis, is one of his election promises. The French executive is confident that the legal text will be ready by January, so that the pension reform will take effect in the summer of 2023.
Macron, who was re-elected in April, wants to postpone the retirement age from 62 to 64 in 2027 and to 65 in 2031. The president also wants to simplify the current complex pension system, from 42 different plans to one, and promises a minimum pension of 1,000 euros for all French who have the full premium period. But most unions and some opposition parties are against it because they fear that citizens will have to work longer and receive less pension in the new system.
Source: La Verdad