Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The French government narrowly survived a no-confidence motion on Monday, with President Emmanuel Macron to address the nation on Wednesday.
Police reported more than 200 arrests after protests broke out following the close vote in the parliament that failed to sink the government’s controversial pension reform, according to a Reuters report on Tuesday.
According to new pension rules, the retirement age in France will be upped from 62 to 64.
Government spokesman Olivier Véran pointed out that “Prime Minister [Élisabeth Borne] placed herself in the hands of parliament and in that sense, she has been comforted by parliament,” adding that the PM “is the only one in power today who can carry out a governmental project.”
According to polls, the majority of voters are against the government’s pension reform and the decision to push it through, with opposition MPs announcing plans to force the government to scrap the reform.
French unions announced plans to take nationwide action later this week to increase pressure on the government and add to ongoing strikes in several sectors.
Strikes in the energy sector forced the government to order the requisitioning of staff on Tuesday to ensure supplies and address fuel shortages.
Groups of protesters continued to clash with police, with officers firing tear gas at groups in several towns and firefighters putting out piles of burning rubbish that has been left uncollected for days due to strikes.
The no-confidence vote was closer than expected, with 278 MPs voting in favor of the motion and 287 votes needed for the vote to pass.
Véran noted that Macron will meet with Borne and government officials later on Tuesday to find a path out of the political crisis, and “outline what happens now” in televised interviews on Wednesday.
“We are coming to the end of the democratic process of this essential reform for our country,” Borne noted and added, “it is with humility and seriousness that I took my responsibility and that of my government.”According to critics, Macron’s decision to push through with the pension reform despite a lack of parliamentary support, which triggered the vote of no confidence, has undermined his agenda.