The executive power is preparing to meet the month of January under very high tension. Elisabeth Borne, who took on the unions on Tuesday, will introduce the highly controversial pension reform next week. Before trying to persuade on immigration and energy, two politically highly incendiary subjects amid record price increases.
Days before MPs return on January 9, the Prime Minister is once again trying to clean up an explosive social backlash between pension reform and inflation. If extending the starting age is the file at the top of the pile for the next few weeks, Matignon will have to deal with other explosive subjects in January.
The prime minister re-set course on the pensions file this Tuesday morning before taking the social partners in for final discussions.
Much criticized pension reform
Ensuring that the departure of the 65-year-old is not a “totem” in French information, the head of government announced that the text will be presented to the Council of Ministers on January 23. The reform, whose outlines will be presented on January 10, should be implemented “from the end of the summer of 2023,” as Emmanuel Macron proposed during his December 31 address.
The problem: the government is now unanimously against it. Trade unions are fiercely opposed to this reform – including the most reformist like the CFDT. This is the first time in more than a decade that the social partners have come together on pensions.
The deputies of LR, whom the LR deputies trusted a lot to carry out the reform of the executive power in the Assembly, seem to be hesitating. Éric Ciotti, the movement’s new head, said he wanted to “contribute” to “this reform” if it saved the system. The head of the right-wing elected representatives in the assembly, Olivier Marleix, expressed his strong opposition. , just like RN and all Nupes.
To extend the starting age to 49.3
If the executive tries to pour water on its wine – promising to take into account a long career and hard work – the French are strongly against it. According to an Elabe poll for BFMTV, only 21% of French people are in favor of delaying the legal retirement age.
The application of Article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows the adoption of laws without passing the vote of the deputies, seems very likely in the absence of an absolute majority of the executive power.
A high-stakes immigration bill
Another hot item on the table for the government: the immigration bill, which will be presented to the Council of Ministers in the coming weeks. Gerald Darmanin, who will defend this text with Olivier Dussopt, is expected to be Minister of Labor after the arrival of 234 migrants from the Ocean Viking in the port of Toulon in November. Departures from reception centers for unaccompanied minors, imbroglio around expulsions … His handling of the file was criticized by the right and the RN.
If the interior minister has increased his wink at his former political friends – claiming to defend “everything that LRs have always asked for” – one of the arrows of reform is missing. Right-wing MPs hardly enjoy the creation of residence permits for undocumented workers in sectors experiencing tension.
Here, again, is a real blow to the government, which cannot pass migration reform without their support. A setback in this area would be particularly symbolic, since the government has managed to put all texts to a vote since June – except for the state and social security budgets.
Rising energy prices amid nuclear reforms
The ultimate trap for government: energy. The government knows this is expected to reverse when gas and electricity prices rise by 15% this year amid high inflation. It is enough to pay close attention to the bill that wants to accelerate the deployment of nuclear energy in France by activating the construction of six EPR reactors in the coming years.
With the country’s electricity supply in full swing, the text could be seen as a catalyst for the French’s economic woes. The bill on renewable energy, which has been debated quite quietly, will be voted on on January 10 next year.
It is also symbolic, as the discount at the pump ends – replaced by a €100 voucher for “large rolls” – and its consequences for French wallets are being closely watched by the executive.
With agony: coagulation of possible dissatisfaction. Calls for the restart of the Yellow Vests movement on January 7 have increased in recent days, days after the strikes, away from unions, doctors and SNCF supervisors.