France pension reform: Macron's administration survives a vote of no confidence

The French government narrowly avoided a vote of no confidence, which was triggered when it pushed through a pension age increase to 64. It sparked fresh anti-government demonstrations in Paris, where 101 individuals were arrested following standoffs with police. 

278 votes were cast in favor of the vote, falling short of the necessary 287 votes. If it had succeeded, President Emmanuel Macron would have been required to appoint a new cabinet or call new elections. The second vote of no confidence proposed by Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally party also failed.

Now that both votes have failed, the contentious bill to raise the retirement age to 64 will become law. The votes were held after Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne used Article 49:3 of the constitution to pass the bill without a vote the previous week. It sparked violent demonstrations over the weekend, with some protesters clashing with police and blocking streets with debris fires in the heart of Paris and other cities across the nation.

The failed vote on Monday sparked new demonstrations in the capital, resulting in a tense standoff between protesters and anti-riot police. Only the first motion, supported by several left-leaning parties including the Green Party and the Socialist Party, had a chance of passing.

When the vote failed, the left-wing contingent that supported it held placards that read "continue" and "we'll meet in the streets" and demanded the resignation of the prime minister. Mathilde Panot, leader of the hard-left La France Insoumise parliamentary group, stated that nothing is resolved and that they will continue to do everything possible to roll back this reform.

One university student named Shola who participated in the Paris demonstrations told sources: "People believe this topic does not pertain to us, but it does. If our grandparents must now work longer hours, we know that the situation will deteriorate." Marie, a fellow student, stated that they were protesting as they have been ignored, abandoned and because their government did not care about them and mocked them. Before the votes, opposition members jeered and booed Ms. Borne when she took the podium for an increasingly tense debate. 

The prime minister stated that the government had "never gone so far" to pass a law through compromise. The government was urged to withdraw the pension reform or submit it to the French people's vote by Boris Vallaud of the Socialist Party. He supported the centrist in the vote of no confidence. 

Mr. Macron has argued that the current French pension system is unaffordable due to the country's aging population. However, that opinion is not shared by everyone in the legislature.

Charles de Courson, the author of the first votes of no confidence, stated that removing the government was the only way to stop the social and political crisis in the country. The leader of the conservative Republican party in France, Éric Ciotti, stated last week that his party would not support the motions of no confidence. According to Mr. Ciotti, the decision to invoke the clause was the result of many years of political failures that revealed a deep crisis in the constitution. Yet, he did not believe that the vote of no confidence was the solution.