France, pension reform a challenge for President Macron

France is not finding peace from the protests. Protests have taken place in all French cities against the bill that aims to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. In Paris, the streets are littered with trash. For this draft law, everything will be decided on Monday in the National Assembly, where a motion of no confidence in the government, requested by the opposition, will be voted. Passing a no-confidence motion will be challenging, analysts say, none has succeeded since 1962 and Mr Macron’s ruling alliance still holds a majority of seats in the National Assembly. If the government is not overthrown, then the bill becomes law.

In Paris, the streets are filled with garbage, while the bad smell has worried the residents. The union of waste collection and processing workers has decided to continue the strike in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

“It breaks our hearts to see the streets of Paris in this state. Our job is to make Paris clean everywhere and for everyone, not just for the residents who live here. Let’s not forget that Paris is the most touristic capital in the world. But we will continue, we will not give up, we will resist despite the fatigue. I hope that everywhere in France people will mobilize”, says Regis Vieceli, General Secretary of the garbage collection union.

Every day these workers collect about 1000 tons of garbage in Paris. Although the residents are upset by the non-collection of garbage, they have shown support for the protests.

“The solution is for the government to change its attitude and listen to the people. Because what is happening is extremely serious. I think the government is largely responsible for this,” says Paris resident Isabelle Vergriette.

“The stench is felt everywhere. Garbage should be dealt with as soon as possible. Although people have the right to demonstrate and show their disagreement with the government,” says another resident.

A broad alliance of France’s main unions has said it will continue to mobilize to try to force the government to abandon the changes.

French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly stated that “he is convinced that the French pension system must be improved to stay afloat”. According to him, other proposed options, such as increasing the already heavy tax burden, would drive away investments, and on the other hand, reducing the pensions of current retirees was not a realistic alternative.

For the pension reform, everything will be decided on Monday in the National Assembly. On Thursday, the French prime minister used the government’s constitutional power to approve the bill, without a vote in the National Assembly.

Mr Macron’s political opponents filed two no-confidence motions on Friday against the government of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. Government officials are hoping to survive Monday’s vote, due to a fractured opposition.

However, if the motion passes it would be a major blow to Mr Macron: the pension bill would be defeated and his cabinet would have to resign. In that case, the president will have to appoint a new government and re-examine the possibilities of passing the draft law. If the government is not overthrown, then the bill is approved.

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