PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron is looking to regain the initiative with new reforms in the coming weeks after his government barely survived a no-confidence motion on Monday over an unpopular pension bill, a source said.
Some in Macron’s own camp have warned him against continuing business as usual amid violent protests and rolling strikes that represent the most serious challenge to the centrist president’s authority since the “Yellow Vest” revolt four years ago.
“We are all weakened. The president, the government and the majority,” a senior MP in Macron’s camp, Gilles Le Gendre, told Liberation newspaper. “It’s not because the law was adopted that we can do business as usual.” Another MP in Macron’s camp, Patrick Vignal, bluntly urged the president to suspend the pension reform bill, which will raise the retirement age by two years to 64, given the anger it has triggered, and its deep unpopularity.
But Macron does not plan any reshuffle, snap elections or major changes of any sort and has ruled out withdrawing the pension law, the source who took part in meetings between Macron and key allies on Tuesday.
He will instead try and use a TV interview on Wednesday to “calm things down” and will plan reforms for the rest of his mandate, the source said.
Speaking to parliament, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt also made clear the government would not change tack.
While Borne said they would try in future to better involve citizens and unions in lawmaking, she gave no specifics, and both said they had devoted as much time to dialogue on the pension bill as possible.
Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2023