On Thursday, French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne invoked a special constitutional power to bypass the lower assembly's vote on the pension reform bill. This has sparked protests across France, with more than 300 people being arrested in the chaos as fires were set and sanitation workers extended their 12-day strike.
The bill seeks to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old. Prime Minister Borne defended the move, stating “We cannot bet on the future of our pensions and this reform is necessary.”
Lawmakers in the lower chamber have filed votes of no-confidence, which are expected to be voted on next week. If the majority succeeds, Macron’s government would have to resign and the bill would be rejected. Should the vote fail, the bill would become a law.
The protests have been taking place for over a week, with more than 1 million French workers striking against the proposed reform. French police have used water cannons to disperse the protesters, who have argued that strikes and protests are “the only way that we will get them to back down.”
Macron’s government has argued that raising the pension age is necessary to keep the French economy competitive and to keep the pension program from going into a deficit. The effects of the bill remain to be seen, as the no-confidence vote is expected to take place next week.