France’s government risked being brought down on Monday by two no-confidence motions filed by lawmakers furious that President Emmanuel Macron ordered the use of special constitutional powers to force through an unpopular bill raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 without giving them a vote.
One of the motions was brought by the far-right National Rally and the other by a small centrist group that has gathered support across the left.
The Senate, dominated by conservatives who back the retirement plan, approved the legislation last week.
The no-confidence motions each need the backing of 287 lawmakers in the National Assembly, the lower chamber, to pass.
Although the motions appeared unlikely to succeed, the climate of protest that Macron’s pension reforms have sparked in parliament and on the streets means the outcome of voting in the National Assembly is not guaranteed.
No such motion has succeeded since 1962.
Macron’s centrist alliance still has the most seats in the National Assembly but a minority of lawmakers from the Republican party could stray from the party line.
The question is are they willing to bring down Macron’s government?
Political tensions have been mirrored on the streets across the country on the emotive issue of pensions.
There have been widespread protests and strikes across various sectors including transport, energy, health and sanitation. The piles of rubbish in Paris are climbing higher every day and reek of rotten food.
Unions, demanding that the government simply withdraw the retirement bill, have called for new nationwide protests on Thursday.
If the no-confidence votes fail, the bill is considered adopted.
Should the no-confidence motion pass, it would be a big blow to Macron, likely weighing on the remainder of his second term, which ends in 2027.
Bringing the government down was “the only way of stopping the social and political crisis in this country,” Charles de Courson, the author of one of the two no-confidence votes and France’s longest-serving MP, told France Inter radio on Monday.