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Pensions: the government fears the blocking of the country


Posted Jan 18, 2023, 7:10 PMUpdated on Jan 19, 2023 at 8:47 am

It is “a week of armed vigil, with many questions”, notes a government source in the face of the first day of mobilization against the pension reform. “The first question is: who is mobilizing this Thursday, the usual corporations or beyond? And the second question is: does the mobilization manage to last? sums up a Renaissance MP.

This Wednesday, there was no longer any question for the government spokesman, Olivier Véran, of seeming to minimize the mobilization as last week, when he had assured that the government is not planning “in the idea of a massive mobilization. After the Council of Ministers, he went so far as to ensure that “we cherish the right to demonstrate today”, before warning against blockages.

“Target parliamentarians”

This is actually what Emmanuel Macron said in the Council of Ministers, according to participants: “We must distinguish between the unions which call for demonstrations in a traditional and republican framework and those which are in a deliberate process of blocking the country, or even to target parliamentarians. “A reference to the CGT-Mines-Energie, and its secretary general Sébastien Menesplier, who spoke of power cuts targeted against elected officials who support the reform.

These statements shocked the deputies of the majority, still haunted by the “yellow vests” period and worried about seeing violent outbursts arise here and there. They also found “welcome”, according to one of them, the request of the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, for special monitoring of parliamentary offices.

These remarks on the blockades are an attempt to move public opinion because a little more than half of the French support the movement, the same level as at the start of the mobilizations of 1995 or 2019, indicated this Wednesday on France Inter Jérôme Fourquet from Ifop. According to an Elabe poll for BFMTV, support and sympathy have however lost 4 points in one week, experienced by 56% of French people. But the respondents are still 55% to say that they would understand the blocking of the country.

“And the problem is that at first people complain about the blockages, but if they last, they turn around and say ‘but what is the government doing? worries a leader of the majority, who also wonders about the attitude of the youth. “If the kids go out, it’s dead,” he decides. “People need peace, hope […] to be reassured rather than divided”, advances on the contrary a minister. In short, worry stronger than anger, he wants to believe.

“Passing Cape Horn”

In the meantime, the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, and the few members of the government directly concerned by the reform are deploying to defend it. And the deputies of the majority were invited to “unite”, according to the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, and to explain it on the ground. To unite, because some Renaissance deputies, like Barbara Pompili or Patrick Vignal, said that in the state, they would not vote for it.

Elected officials are also invited to explain the reform, because hostility towards it has increased since its presentation, by 7 points according to Elabe, to 66%. The exercise is anything but easy, “while the reform is above all financial and does not please anyone”, loose a Renaissance deputy. “I never thought I’d enthuse the crowds with that. We will have to be able to bring something else to the French, ”says a heavyweight of the government.

“It’s an obligatory crossing point, we can’t go back, it’s Cape Horn, either the boat breaks and it’s over, or it passes, it’s going to rock, but calm will return, we can open new perspectives,” he hopes. Before adding, as if to try to convince himself: “Fifty days of crossing, it’s short over five years. »

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