For half an hour and sitting in front of two young journalists from the most watched channels in France, Emmanuel Macron only ratified his position: there will be no withdrawal from the controversial Retirement Reform.
“The reform will follow its constitutional path”, assures the French president before Julien Bugier and Marie Sophie Lacarrau at the Élysée Palace. “The text was presented by the government, it was submitted to 175 hours of debate in Congress, it has been modified and enriched by the Mixed Commission of senators and deputies and finally approved by the Senate. Today it is in the Constitutional CouncilThe only thing left to do is wait for him to pronounce himself” concludes Macron, very sure that he will be able to enact the Pension Reform in Septemberincluding article 7 that raises the delay of retirement age from 62 to 64 years and that keeps the country on fire.
“Do you think I like this reform? Well no. whatDon’t you think I would have preferred to sweep that problem under the rug, like others before me? well maybe yes”, says the president, arguing that the number of pensioners is on the rise and is becoming a heavy burden for the State. Twenty years ago, there were ten million pensioners, today there are 17 million and by the 2030s, it is estimated that they will increase to 20 million. Macron also mentions that young people today start their working life much later than their parents and grandparents.
“We are a great nation and an old people. ANDhe social distribution system is no longer in equilibrium. I myself am not happy with this reform but it is necessary” – assures the president.
Macron defends that the implementation of the Retirement Reform this year will allow 1.8 million pensioners receive an increase of 600 euros per year and that the retirement age may begin to be gradually delayed.
It also lists the alternatives that had been handled to maintain the balance of the Social Distribution System and that were finally discarded: increase in taxes, increase in current contributions of workers, reduction in retirement amounts. “There are not 36 solutions. And the magic formula proposed by the detractors of this reform is the deficit. They are those who prefer their children to pay that deficit rather than courageously decide on the reform” – replies the president.
Regarding the street, Macron recognizes the “legitimacy” of the protests taking place today in France. He respects the authority of the unions and the structure with which they have organized strikes and demonstrations, but accuses “certain groups” of exercising extreme violence and to attack deputies and mayors. “When the rules are not respected, we no longer talk about democracy. You have to listen to the discontent but you cannot accept these factions”, concludes Macron.
“Lies and contempt” say opponents
“The president only had to say four words: I withdraw the reform” – lashed out the far-left deputy, Mathilde Panotdescribing President Macron as “misplaced, liar, irresponsible and arrogant”.
As was to be expected in an environment as heated as the one in France, the reactions to Macron’s interview immediately exploded.
The president of the Finance Committee of the National Assembly and deputy of La Francia Insumisa, Eric Coquerellashed out at Emmanuel Macron and called out to the streets: “Lots of words for nothing. Macron claims to be the only representative of the interests of the nation, against the people, the unions and the majority of the assembly. Let’s respond to this useless intervention in the street” – said Coquerel in a tweet.
Olivier Faure of the Socialist Party accused Macron of insulting French history by denying legitimacy to popular expression. “Macron is emptying the drum in a fire that he himself had started”Faure finished.
Sebastien Chenu, a far-right deputy and vice-president of Parliament, was much more sarcastic: “Never have the poor been so happy. The French have never felt so happy!”
On the trade union side, the CGT leader, Philippe Martínez, described Emmanuel Macron’s statements as “a mockery and contempt” for the millions of people who are demonstrating in the streets. “It seems that the president lives on the moon: ‘Everything is fine, I’m doing everything right, nothing is happening on the street.’ There is no answer” – denounced Martínez.
For his part, the Secretary General of the French Democratic Labor Confederation, laurent bergeraccused the president of having lied about the CFDT’s position on pensions, “to hide his inability to find a majority to approve his unfair reform.”
This, in response to Macron’s statements in which he recounted that Berger had asked his own people to accept the delay in the retirement age: “They did not accept his proposal, but he was willing to work more. Nor did they make any counterproposals.”
Laurent Berger described Macron’s statements as “hollow words” and accused him of having taken the floor, not to calm the situation but to explain “that all the rest of us had misunderstood”.
For now, the expectation is set on the great general strike that has been called for this Thursday, March 23 and that involves vital sectors of the country’s functioning: urban transport, railways, public administration, teachers, garbage collectors, oil workers and lines. aerial. Strong street demonstrations are also expected throughout France.
Macron’s iron position is far from calming things down and he knows it: “Between the polls and the interests of the country, I choose the interests of the country. And I’m willing to take on that unpopularity.”