French Senate defies two million protesters, approves raising retirement age
Protesters march against the pension reforms in Paris, Saturday, March 11, 2023. | AP

The French Senate voted late on Saturday to approve the deeply unpopular reform to the country’s pension system. This came hours after two million people at some 239 demonstrations took to the streets to oppose the cornerstone policy of President Emmanuel Macron’s second term in office.

The Senate voted by 195 votes to 112 late on Saturday night to inch the government’s plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 closer to becoming law.

The plans will now go before a commission which will put together a draft version of the law for approval by both the Senate and the National Assembly.

The President of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, said: “We have sat continuously for 10 days and almost as many nights for a total of more than 100 hours of debate. We have registered a record number of amendments and sub-amendments: 8,900 in total.”

But French Communist Party General Secretary Fabien Roussel praised all those in the Senate who fought against the “operations of the government and the senatorial right.” He said, “The fight goes on until retirement at age 64” is saved.

Unions said that there was another massive turnout to oppose the plans on Saturday, with at least 200,000 marching through Paris.

“I’m here to fight for my colleagues and for our young people,” said Claude Jeanvoine, a retired train driver at a protest in Strasbourg, eastern France.

Unions issued a joint statement on Saturday calling on Macron to take the contentious issue to the people through a “citizens’ consultation.”

CGT general secretary Philippe Martinez said: “If Emmanuel Macron is so sure of himself, he should consult the French people.”

An opinion poll published by broadcaster BFMTV Saturday found that 63% of French people supported the protests against the reform.

Morning Star


Roger McKenzie
Roger McKenzie

Roger McKenzie is the International Editor of Morning Star, Britain’s daily socialist newspaper. He is the author of the book "African Uhuru: The Fight for African Freedom in the Rise of the Global South" published by Manifesto Press.