The shadow of 49-3 hangs over the pension reform
The countdown has started. After the end of the second parliamentary round and the vote…
The countdown has started. After the end of the second parliamentary round and the vote on the pension reform bill in the Senate , the government has entered the final stretch of the parliamentary process. The Joint Joint Commission (CMP), made up of seven deputies and seven senators, will meet on Wednesday March 15 before a final vote in both chambers the next day, in the morning in the Senate and in the afternoon in the National Assembly. For Emmanuel Macron and Elisabeth Borne, the challenge is twofold: first, to ensure that an agreement is found in CMP then find a majority in the Palais-Bourbon, while that should not pose too many problems in the Upper House.
If the hypothesis of an appeal to 49-3, which allows the adoption of the bill without a vote, hovers above the executive, Elisabeth Borne still hopes to find a majority to avoid it. To do this, she will have to get the full number of votes within her own – relative – majority and convince a major part of the Les Républicains (LR) deputies. At the Elysée, we recall that Emmanuel Macron has “confidence” in Elisabeth Borne to find this majority.
Terminal does not want 49-3
For the tenant of Matignon, whose situation would be more than weakened by a rejection of the reform, there “is a majority” on this text. But she is not sure either, as the differences are strong within the LR deputies, while, at Renaissance, the deputies have been warned: it will be either a vote in favor or exclusion. Emmanuel Macron who, ironically, had scrapped against a 49-3 when the law bearing his name was adopted in February 2015 when he was Minister of the Economy, this time has fewer reservations. “He does not want to take any risk given the stakes around this law,” notes an adviser.
Overlooking since the start of the reform, the President of the Republic has only one objective: that the reform be completed to come into force next summer as planned. “Parliament will follow the terms of our constitution so that a legislative text can go to its end, no more and no less,” he declared on Friday after the Franco-British summit (and before the vote of the Senate ).
If the pension reform is adopted, he will be able to start the rest of his five-year term and move on to other issues after a messy first year. If it is not, the whole edifice of the first year of its second five-year term will collapse.
The arguments against 49.3 are very strong
The Prime Minister is reluctant to use 49-3, because the political consequences would be heavy. It would come to accredit the accusations of passage in force of the text, after the choice of 47-1 which limits the number of hours of discussions or the recourse to the vote blocked Friday in the Senate.
Within the majority, many voices share this observation and militate against this option. Sunday on RTL and LCI, François Bayrou did not hide his reservations. “In the situation where we are, where the text has not been adopted by a vote in the National Assembly, I recognize that the arguments against 49.3 are very strong”, estimated this close ally of Emmanuel Macron, who believes that the government “does not want 49-3”. The 49-3 also carries a political risk in the face of the inevitable motion of censure that it will provoke.
On Sunday, RN boss Jordan Bardella spoke of “discussions” for a joint censure motion. But we must not forget that the voices of all the oppositions, the Nupes, the National Rally and LR, must combine to bring down the government.
Mélenchon wants a way out “by force”
The 49-3 would also risk stirring up social anger, while the unions are still burned by the end of inadmissibility that Emmanuel Macron – an “arm of honor” according to them – addressed to their request for an appointment. Union officials have warned: the use of 49-3 for this unpopular reform would be a declaration of war with unforeseeable consequences.
“That the end of the story is a 49-3 seems incredible and dangerous to me”, declared to the “Journal du Dimanche” Laurent Berger, the secretary general of the CFDT, who even evokes a “democratic vice”. The hardening of the discourse of Laurent Berger, who is campaigning for a referendum on pensions, does not go unnoticed. “He had not accustomed us to speaking like Philippe Martinez [secrétaire général de la CGT, NDLR] “, notes a senator.
Pension reform is at a turning point. Last Saturday, the seventh day of mobilization has marked a clear decline . If the government is back to the wall, the unions are also facing the breathlessness of the mobilization a month and a half after the start of the movements. But this does not mean that the social discontent has disappeared, while the reform remains overwhelmingly unpopular in public opinion.
Tensions remain high and a new day of mobilization is scheduled for Wednesday. On the political level, the left also believes that it has not said its last word after the positive vote of the Senate. “We have to find a way out, so we will find one by force,” warned Jean-Luc Mélenchon on Saturday from Marseille, where he was taking part in the demonstration. Now is clearly not the time for appea*****t.