French senators begin debate on Macron’s contested pension reform

© Christophe Archambault, AFP

French senators will start debating President Emmanuel Macron’s contested pension plan on Thursday, as the centrist government hopes to find a compromise with the conservatives at the upper house of parliament to be able to push the bill through.

Macron has vowed to go ahead with the bill, which aims to raise the country’s minimum retirement age from 62 to 64, despite nationwide demonstrations and strikes and opinion polls consistently showing a majority of French people oppose the change.

Workers unions and youth organizations pledged to “bring France to a standstill” during the next protest, which is scheduled for March 7.

The National Assembly’s two-week discussion last month has featured flaring tempers and thousands of amendments proposed mostly by the left-wing opposition, making it impossible for lawmakers to examine the full bill.

At the Senate, dominated by The Republicans, talks are expected to be smoother for government officials. Conservative senators have for years pushed for raising the minimum retirement age.

The head of The Republicans senators, Bruno Retailleau, said in a recent interview with Le Parisien newspaper that “we want to vote” for the bill “after making changes.”

The debate is scheduled to last until the end of next week.


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