France’s senate has voted to approve a controversial reform to pensions, hours after people took the streets again to oppose the cornerstone policy of Emmanuel Macron’s second presidential term.
The reforms passed by 195 votes to 112, and are a step closer to becoming law. The draft will now go to committee stage, before it reaches the senate and national assembly for a final vote.
French prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, remarked that this an important step had been taken, since the pension reform secured a broad vote in the senate. She added that she the government had a parliamentary majority to get the reforms passed into law.
Should the government fail to secure the necessary majority, the French prime minister could make use of what is known as 49:3 procedure – a rarely and highly controversial constitutional tool – to push the legislation through without a vote.
If enacted into law, France will see its minimum retirement age rise to 64 from 62. It would also increase the number of years people have to make contributions in order to receive a full pension.
The proposed measures have been strongly opposed by unions, and hoped that Macron’s government would back down. However, Saturday’s protests against the reform were far smaller than some previous ones.
The French unions called on the government to organise a “citizen’s consultation” as soon as possible in a joint statement. They also said they plan to keep up the pressure with an additional day of nationwide strikes and protests planned for Wednesday.
Critics have highlighted that women, especially mothers, are at a disadvantage under the proposed law.