France’s pension reform a done deal

France’s highly controversial pension reform has finally been passed: after circumventing a parliamentary vote and passing the bill by decree, the government survived two motions of no confidence that could have overturned the plan. As protests continue, commentators wonder what lies ahead for the country.

The Times (GB) /

The only right path

The Times praises Macron’s resolve:

“It is a nettle that must be grasped. France can no longer afford its luxurious retirement arrangements. If nothing is done the state pension system could be £790 billion [roughly 900 billion euros] in deficit by 2050. Longer lives mean a liberal regime that has endured since the days of François Mitterrand is unsustainable. ... Mr Macron is justified in seeing the reform as essential, and not only to save the pension system. Like Britain, France needs its older workforce to keep contributing. Just 56 per cent of those aged 55 to 64 are in a job, while the figure in Germany is 72 per cent.”

Libération (FR) /

Macron is destabilising France

The president’s actions are damaging the country, criticises Libération’s editor-in-chief Dov Alfon:

“Emmanuel Macron has broken all the eggs he had in his basket, but he has not managed to make an omelette. The list is dizzying: the brazen lies from the moment the reform was presented, the secret negotiations to get it passed through parliament, the hundreds of amendments that were rejected arbitrarily, the arrogant refusal to meet with the unions, the contempt for one of the biggest protest movements in the history of the Fifth Republic. ... What now lies ahead: intensification of the protests, rejection of the institutions of the republic and the opening of a populist breach through which the far right could rush in.”

Dov Alfon
Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Good news for Le Pen

Der Tagesspiegel says Macron’s approach is a political disaster:

“The reform is rejected by the bulk of the population as anti-social and there have been mass demonstrations and strikes for weeks. The trade unions are showing a rare degree of unity. And now this controversial and hated law is to be passed without being presented to parliament because there is no secure majority there? This can only massively shake the confidence of the French in democracy and the institutions. The only ones who will be happy about this are Marine le Pen and her far-right party.”

Andrea Nüsse
La Stampa (IT) /

A big gamble

Macron’s course of action is risky for several reasons, La Stampa warns:

“Firstly, it’s clear that France is not going through a financial crisis comparable to the one that hit Italy in 2011 when the Monti government passed the pension reform by decree. ... Invoking a financial crisis when you’re not really living through one will hardly make an unpopular measure acceptable. Secondly, Macron is seriously jeopardising his own credibility, because the use of special powers requires the political strength and consistency not to back down afterwards.”

Pietro Garibaldi
Le Figaro (FR) /

Doomed to stand still

France’s fierce opposition to reform gives Le Figaro pause for thought:

“Can it still be reformed? Is it doomed to stand still in a world that is constantly on the move? This pension reform, which has become essential because of demographic trends, is not asking the impossible! Compared to those implemented by our neighbours it is actually very moderate. And yet it is turning society upside down, spurred on by trade unionists, some of whom dream of ‘bringing the economy to its knees’. On Thursday, the government resorted to the hard way to pass its reform. Yet it still smacks of failure.”

Yves Thréard