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Pension reform: taking on the debate in the National Assembly


Ihe conflict triggered by the pension reform project entered a new phase this week. The unions, always united around the objective and the methods of action, must fight against the risk of the movement running out of steam. The processions were, Tuesday, February 7, a little less provided, the number of strikers seemed a little less important than on January 19 and 31. During school holidays, this drop in speed was anticipated by the power stations, which are counting on Saturday to make a new show of force. But holding on for the long term, faced with a government that does not want to let go of the single demand of the inter-union – to give up raising the legal retirement age to 64 – looks complicated.

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So far, the CFDT has managed to impose the idea that a demonstration of popular and peaceful force is better than blocking actions. Opinion polls give him reason, but the firmness of the government is likely to push other centrals to opt for more radical actions.

No common counter-proposal

The more the days pass, the more the weaknesses of the government text become apparent: women and workers who entered working life early are particularly affected by the increase in the retirement age combined with the acceleration of the extension of the contribution period. The Republican right, the most inclined to compromise, makes a point of flushing out inequalities and correcting them, which allows it to rebuild its social image cheaply by unraveling week after week the work of the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne . The other groups camp in hostility to the reform, driven by the sole objective of appearing as the most radical opponent of Emmanuel Macron.

Since Monday, February 6, the unions are no longer alone in leading the fight. In the National Assembly, all the oppositions took over to try to make the government back down, but the tone of the debates, the invectives, the low blows which characterized the beginning of the discussion arouse unease. La France insoumise (LFI), the most advanced in the fight, is not wrong to consider that the government is mistreating Parliament by limiting the duration of debates. But the choice made by some of its members to shout, slam the desks or even pour out their hatred on the ministers does not raise the level. We have been sufficiently worried in recent years about the crisis of national representation, the risks of marginalization of Parliament, not to require elected officials to wage a worthy fight there, project against project.

The desire to win back the popular electorate, partly captured by Marine Le Pen, explains the very harsh tone of the LFI elected officials, who want to combine obstruction and promotion of counter-proposals based on the return to retirement at age 60, financed by tax increases. The New People’s Ecological and Social Union was, however, unable to develop a common counter-proposal as the differences remain strong, particularly with the Socialists, who once endorsed the increase in the contribution period and did not plan, during the last presidential campaign, to reconsider retirement at age 62. Assuming a serious debate in Parliament on pension reform would require having removed all these contradictions beforehand. Failing to do so, the left risks finding itself trapped in one-upmanship.

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