French Senate advances Macron's pension reform plan as strikes continue
France's Senate voted late Saturday to approve a deeply unpopular reform to the country's pension system, hours after demonstrators took to the streets to oppose the cornerstone policy of President Emmanuel Macron's second term in office.
Senators passed the reforms by 195 votes to 112, bringing the package another step closer to becoming law. A committee will now hammer out a final draft, which will then be submitted to both the Senate and National Assembly for a final vote.
"An important step was taken this evening with a broad vote on the pension reform text in the Senate," Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told AFP after the vote, adding that she believed the government had a parliamentary majority to get the reforms passed into law.
Should Macron's government fail to assemble the necessary majority, however, Borne could deploy a rarely used and highly controversial constitutional tool, known as article 49/3, to push the legislation through without a vote.
Unions, which have fiercely opposed the measures, still hoped on Saturday to force Macron to back down, though the day's protests against the reform were far smaller than some previous ones.
"This is the final stretch," Marylise Leon, deputy leader of the CFDT union, told the broadcaster Franceinfo on Saturday. "The endgame is now."
This week, Macron twice turned down urgent calls by unions to meet with him in a last-ditch attempt to get him to change his mind.
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