Updated Mar 16, 2023, 11:04am EDT

Macron pushes through controversial French pension reform without vote

French President Emmanuel Macron gives a speech to ouline France's revamped strategy for Africa ahead of his visit in Central Africa, at the Elysee Palace in Paris on February 27, 2023. Stefano Rellandini/Pool via REUTERS
Stefano Rellandini/Pool via REUTERS

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The News

French President Emmanuel Macron will push through his controversial pension reform without a vote in the lower house of parliament, as the country is roiled by strikes and protests against the legislation that aims to raise France’s retirement age from 62 to 64.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Bornem told the French parliament she would use constitutional powers to push the legislation through with no vote, prompting jeers from opposition members who held signs reading “64 years old, it’s a no,” and shouted “resignation!”

Bornem told the National Assembly that France could not “bet on the future of our pensions.”

Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing party National Rally, announced that her party would vote for a motion of censure, which would act as a no-confidence vote against Macron’s government.

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Know More

Earlier Thursday, the legislation was approved in the Conservative-majority upper house Senate 193 to 114. The bill faced an uphill battle in the lower house of the Assembly, and voting was expected to see razor-thin margins.


The bill has faced heavy opposition from voters, with polling showing a majority oppose it.

Macron and his government view the reform as necessary for economic stability, as longer life expectancies mean more people leaving the workforce and settling into retirement.

France has been hit with multiple protests against the legislation as thousands have staged strikes nationwide.

Unions have also rallied to protest against the bill. A garbage collectors strike has continued for more than a week, and trash has piled high in Paris, with some estimates pegging the amount of garbage to be collected at around 5,600 tons. The growing piles have sparked concerns that they are operating as a feast for the city’s roughly six-million strong rat population.

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The View From the UK

The retirement age in the U.K. could rise to 68 by the 2030s, according to January reports in British media, in a plan to bring the hike forward by around a decade. At the moment, the state retirement age is 66, two years higher than France’s proposed 64.

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The View From Italy

Italy has one of the highest retirement ages in EU countries. The minimum age to collect a pension sits at 67 presently, three years later than France’s proposal. Italy’s aging population means the country spent around 17% of its GDP on pensions in 2020. That represents the second-highest spending on pensions for any EU country, following only Greece.