Parliamentary commission fails to consider all 22,000 amendments to French pension reform bill
The French government’s pension reform, which has sparked weeks of strikes and protest, will be debated in parliament in its original form without amendments, after a parliamentary commission failed to address all 22,000 modifications proposed by the opposition in the nine days allotted.
The special commission on pension reform in the National Assembly spent nine days and 75 hours addressing the 22,000 amendments to the bill, most of which (19,000) were introduced by the hard-left France Unbowed lawmakers (France Insoumise), explicitly to slow down the process.
On Tuesday night the commission finished its examination of the bill having addressed only 8,000 of the amendments. It announced that on Monday 17 February, parliament will debate the original draft of the legislation presented by the government.
This has never happened since a 2008 constitutional reform introduced the idea of a review commission for all draft legislations.
The president of the commission, Brigitte Bourguignon, of the ruling La République en Marche (LReM) party, admitted the situation was regrettable.
"It’s a situation that I agree to with regret,” she said, adding that the commission’s work will not go unheeded.
Guillaume Gouffier-Cha, the bill’s sponsor, could introduce the 20 or so amendments that were approved by the commission.
The ruling party blames the situation on France Unbowed and the avalanche of amendments, which it says denigrates the work of parliament. The opposition says the government is moving too fast by pushing for the bill to be debated and voted on by the beginning of March, ahead of local elections later in the month.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of France Unbowed, swore to continue the fight during the main debates, to bring down what he calls President Emmanuel Macron’s “stubbornness”.
Ce soir la charge du macronisme contre les retraites est mise en échec. L'examen du texte est interrompu à l'art. 26 sur 65 que compte la loi. La commission spéciale a permis des révélations décisives. La lutte continue sur tous les fronts. L'obstination de Macron sera vaincue.Jean-Luc Mélenchon (@JLMelenchon) February 11, 2020
The party, along with two other leftist groups in parliament, have said they will try to introduce a no confidence vote to slow down the process.
The government could decide to resort to constitutional clause 49-3 which allows it to push through legislation without parliamentary approval, a move that could further anger the opposition, which claims the reform is being pushed through against the will of the people.
Unions, meanwhile, are calling for a day of action on Monday, as debates on the bill begin. Public transit, which has returned to normal since an unprecedented six week strike over December and January, could be blocked. Unions are also calling for a general strike on Thursday, 20 February.
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