French president Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to reform his country’s pension system have been set back by the results of divisive national elections.
During his campaign for the presidency, which he won in April, Macron highlighted a three-part plan including the creation of a nationally sponsored defined benefit pension system — similar to the system used in Canada — and raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030.
In June, France held a second set of elections for its 577 parliamentary seats. Macron’s centrist party, La République En Marche, saw 245 candidates elected, reducing its total by 101 seats and costing its majority status. As a result, the balance of power now sits in the hands of several left-wing and right-wing parties, none of which are supportive of pension reform.
The largest left-wing party, La France Insoumise, secured 131 victories, 66 more than it had previously held. Since the election, its leaders have entered a coalition, Nupes, with other left-leaning parties and stated its objections to pension reform proposals. In addition, the far-right Rassemblement National, secured 89 victories, gaining 82 seats more than in the previous elections.
“We will oppose without any concessions Emmanuel Macron’s reforms, like the pension reform in particular,” said Sebastien Chenu, a parliamentarian and spokesperson for the RN.
Talk of pension reform — a topic of perennial debate in France — became controversial in 2019, when Macron first attempted to raise the retirement age to 65, sparking the longest strike in France’s history. In an effort to appease voters, he altered his position by campaigning to raise the retirement age to 64.