‘Short-term victory’ for Macron as top court approves pension reform | World | News

The Council rejected some parts of the government’s pension legislation but approved the higher minimum retirement age, which was central to Macron’s plan and the focus of furious protests across France.

The move has sparked the anger of labour unions, which organised 12 nationwide protests since January in hopes of defeating the plan, who have vowed to continue fighting until it is withdrawn.

They called for another mass protest on May 1, which is International Workers’ Day.

Opinion polls show Macron’s popularity has plunged to its lowest level in four years.

The centrist president, who made raising the retirement age a priority of his second term, plans to make a televised national address on Monday evening, Macron’s office said.

Government spokesperson Olivier Veran said: “The president’s remarks are very much awaited” and will both seek to appease tensions in the country and explain decisions that have been made in the past months regarding the pension reform.

The French leader has been warned his position will continue to be untenable despite his « short-term victory ».

Jean-Daniel Levy, a political analyst for Harris Interactive, said on RTL radio: “It’s a short-term victory.

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“His governing style appears solitary, authoritarian and out of touch. That’s the main challenge for the president today.”

The government argued that requiring people to work two years more before qualifying for a pension was needed to keep the pension system afloat as the population ages; opponents proposed raising taxes on the wealthy or employers instead, and said the change threatened a hard-won social safety net.

Macron was first elected in 2017 on a promise to make France’s economy more competitive, including by making people work longer.

Since then, his government has made it easier to hire and fire workers, cut business taxes and made it more difficult for the unemployed to claim benefits.

In a separate but related decision, the council rejected a request by left-wing lawmakers to allow for a possible referendum on enshrining 62 as the maximum official retirement age. The council will rule on a second, similar request, next month.

As tensions mounted hours before the decision, Macron invited labour unions to meet with him on Tuesday no matter what the Constitutional Council decision was, his office said.

But the unions rejected Macron’s invitation.

Spontaneous demonstrations were held around France ahead of the nine-member council’s ruling. Opponents of the pension reform blockaded entry points into some cities, including Rouen in the west and Marseille in the south, slowing or stopping traffic.

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