THE French government has chosen the moment – when France, Europe and the world is obsessed by the coronavirus crisis – to launch a coup against its own parliament.
On Saturday, the French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe pushed through the Macron government’s controversial pension reforms proposals, to slash workers’ pensions without a parliamentary vote.
The government launched its coup after the French opposition parties filed more than 40,000 amendments to the draft law.
After thirteen days of rows in France’s National Assembly, Philippe said his shock move was needed to ‘put an end to this episode of non-debate’ with opponents of the bill, and to ‘allow the rest of the legislative process to take place’.
The bill will now become law unless the National Assembly votes through a censure motion within three days. This is unlikely because President Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche enjoys a sizeable majority.
The legal instrument Philippe used to force the bill through parliament – Article 49.3 of the French constitution – is completely Bonapartist. It was created by Charles de Gaulle, who founded the Fifth Republic in 1958, by overthrowing the Fourth Republic with a military coup which placed him into power. De Gaulle said that Article 49.3 was necessary to allow strong government.
Philippe described it as a ‘means, offered to the government by the constitution, to get parliament out of a rut’.
France’s unions have been up in arms over these plans to merge the country’s 42 different retirement schemes into a single points-based system, while the Yellow Vests have been marching for over a year against the savage cuts in the standard of living, defying deadly police state attacks.
Public transport workers walked off the job for a month and a half in December and January, and were given full support by the travelling public, who are opposed to pensions cuts.
Prime Minister Philippe told French broadcaster TF1 that his move had ‘no link with the virus’ and said the debate in parliament was taking too long with too many amendments.
The opposition are now scrambling to try to thwart the move. French law-makers from the left and right of the spectrum have now filed motions of no confidence in the government.
‘We have just lodged our motion of public censure,’ Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the leftist France Unbowed, said on Twitter, where he posted the photo of the document signed by 63 legislators.
Another motion was filed by the right-wing Republicans of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the French BFMTV channel.
The bill will become law unless the National Assembly votes through a censure motion within three days.
France’s unions have been up in arms over these plans to merge the country’s 42 different retirement schemes into a single points-based system.
There is not the slightest doubt that the French workers, trade unions and the middle classes in the Yellow Vests movement are undefeated. They will not allow their gains to be stolen from them by a Bonapartist coup.
They will rise up, and the mass movement of the working class and the middle class will be joined by the student and working class youth to organise the French socialist revolution. The French workers will take the power rather than give up their gains to the French and EU bosses and bankers.
The British trade unions must give full support to the French workers – we are all in the same trench, and face the same enemy, international capital.
In fact, sections of the Fourth International must be built all over Europe to lead the European Socialist revolution. The EU must be consigned to the dustbin of history and be replaced by the Socialist United States of Europe where the working class will manage a planned economy and hold the power.