On Saturday evening, the French Senate approved the controversial pension reform, against which mass protests have been taking place for several days. 195 senators voted for it, 112 were against it.
The competent committee will now prepare the final proposal for the new law, which will then be voted on by the Senate and the National Assembly.
Following the Senate’s decision, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne expressed her belief that the government has a sufficient majority in parliament to pass the law. But if this were not the case, she could use a rare and controversial constitutional instrument known as Article 49/3 and pass the pension legislation without a vote.
On Saturday, national protests took place in France for the seventh day against the reform, with which the government of President Emmanuel Macron intends to raise the retirement age from the current 62 to 64 years.
French unions, fiercely opposed to the reform, still hope Macron, who has rejected their calls for talks, will make concessions. According to the French news agency AFP, Saturday’s participation in protests was lower than in previous days.
According to the Interior Ministry, around 368,000 people took part in Saturday’s demonstration, although around half a million protesters were expected. In the evening, protests in Paris turned violent, with police arresting around 30 people who were breaking windows, throwing objects at officers and overturning bins.
Despite the protests, the government insists on the reform, saying that without it the pension system would collapse. Pension reform was also one of Macron’s central pre-election promises. They tried to soften the criticism by promising to increase the minimum guaranteed pension to 1,200 euros, as well as allowances for pensioners with health problems and those who performed physically demanding jobs. The opposition accuses them of merely “candies” to no real effect.