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French govt survives no-confidence votes in pension fight

PARIS: The French government under President Emmanuel Macron on Monday survived two no-confidence motions in parliament, but still faced intense pressure over its handling of a controversial pensions reform.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne incensed the opposition last week by announcing the government would impose the pension reform without a parliamentary vote, sparking accusations of anti-democratic behaviour.

The opposition filed two motions of no confidence in the government as a result.

The 577-seat National Assembly lower house rejected the first motion – brought by the centrist LIOT coalition and supported by the left – by a margin of just nine votes, much narrower than expected.

It then overwhelmingly rejected a motion brought by the far-right National Rally (RN) with just 94 votes in favor.

The rejection of the motions means that the reform to raise the pensions age from 62 to 64 has now been adopted by the legislature.

Borne, in a move customary in such a situation, has asked the Constitutional Court to check the law while the left has filed a request with the court for a referendum on the issue.

“I am determined to continue to carry out the necessary transformations in our country with my ministers and to devote all my energy to meeting the expectations of our fellow citizens,” Borne said in a statement to AFP after the votes.

But it is far from representing the end of the biggest domestic crisis of the second mandate in the office of Macron, who has yet to make any public comment on the controversy.

Spontaneous protests erupted in the centre of Paris late Monday with protesters setting fire to bins and clashing with police in some areas.

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.