Pensions, the fight begins on the streets of France: the attractiveness of intellectuals

Pensions, the fight begins on the streets of France: the attractiveness of intellectuals

by Stefano Montefiori

Today the big strike. Writers and Nobel Prize winners: archaic reform. In the latest Ifop poll, 68% oppose the project and 51% support the protest

PARIS The goal of the unions to blockade the country and get a million people onto the streets, the figure that will cheer the success of the first day of mobilization and that will allow tonight to announce the next stages of the struggle.

After months of declarations and preliminary tactics, the fight against pension reform begins on the streets of France today. Emmanuel Macron claims it is the clearest proposal of his recent presidential campaign, which confirmed him for another five years at the Elysée last spring. Reforms were on the agenda, it was on the basis of that program that the French elected him, and now the President wants to implement what he promised. Even if he doesn’t have an absolute majority in Parliament and he has to resort to Rule 49-3 (consent without a vote), or rather he would use the votes of the Rpublicains, now led by Nicolas Sarkozy’s Gaullist Ric Ciotti. Who remain in the opposition for the time being, but support this plan.

The most visible measure is raising the retirement age from the current 62 to 64, which is already a compromise to Macron’s original intention (at least 65). Blocking the country – from transport to refineries – for retirement at 64 when Italy or Germany has the limit at 67 (Denmark is approaching 70) may seem odd, but Socialist Secretary Olivier Faure explains briefly that that the French don’t care what is being done in Germany or Italy, and it probably revolves around the problem: France is a country that sees itself as unique, special and the French model (of quality of life and social guarantees with few equals on of the world) understands. must be defended to the bitter end.

Among the signs of a French exception is the habit with which various writers and intellectuals intervene in the public debate: yesterday, on the eve of the day of the struggle, about a hundred personalities announced in the leftist magazine Politis their determination to fight against an archaic and terribly unequal project.

Nobel laureate Annie Ernaux, economist Thomas Piketty, former journalist Valrie Trierweiler, 2018 Goncourt Prize author Nicolas Mathieu, director Robert Gudiguian and many others denounce that the reform will hit those hardest with the work do and exhausting.

The government is using the cold and somewhat technocratic tones of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who argues that the need to extend working life is a fact, not a political argument. As always in these cases, the magic word pedagogy is repeated endlessly, we must test the pedagogy, the moment of pedagogy, in short, we must explain endlessly: only those who have not understood it can reject a reform that, according to Macron, is reasonable , sacrosanct and inevitable.

But so many French people don’t seem to want to understand it, because according to the latest Ifop poll, 68% oppose the project and 51% support the mobilization despite the potential huge inconvenience. Relying somewhat on the self-fulfilling prophecy, unions announce that trains, subways and buses have stopped, gas stations are running out of gas and schools have reduced their schedules in anticipation of the travel chaos. Many companies have organized themselves with the massive use of smart working, for example during the lockdown due to Covid.

Due to the calendar and overcrowded agendas, Macron and ministers will follow the crucial day from Spain, where the signing of the solemn Treaty of Barcelona has been scheduled for some time today (modelled on those of the Elysée with Germany and the Quirinal with Italy) . A not too unpleasant coincidence, as if to indicate a broader horizon. However, should the situation become complicated, ministers are ready to shorten the visit and quickly return to Paris.

January 18, 2023 (change January 18, 2023 | 22:52)