Macron Cabinet Faces No-Confidence Vote in France’s Pension Bill Fight

President Emmanuel Macron’s government was facing a crucial no-confidence vote in France’s lower house of Parliament on Monday after his government forced a pension overhaul through without a vote, incensing labor unions, sparking violent protests and setting off the most intense political turmoil since his re-election last year.

In choosing to bypass Parliament, Mr. Macron opened up his government to the no-confidence effort, a move enabled by France’s Constitution, leading to two no-confidence motions in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, against his cabinet.

Votes on both are likely to be held on Monday evening, determining the future of not just the widely unpopular pension overhaul, which would push back the legal age of retirement in France to 64 from 62, but the government itself.

If neither motion passes, the cabinet stays and the bill stands. But if one of the motions gathers enough votes — more than half of the total number of lawmakers elected to the lower house — Mr. Macron’s cabinet will have to resign and the pension bill will be rejected, a huge blow to the president even though he would remain in office.

The first motion, put forward by the far-right National Rally, is not expected to receive much support beyond the party’s own ranks. The other, filed by a small group of independent lawmakers and backed by a broad alliance of opposition parties, poses a greater threat.

While neither motion is seen as likely to get the required number of votes — at least 287 — to succeed, anger against Mr. Macron has intensified, and speculation over a possible surprise outcome is rampant after three days of volatility and heightened tension in French politics.

Mr. Macron sees the pension overhaul as crucial to France’s future. He has argued that long-term deficits will hobble the country if nothing is done to address a discrepancy between the number of active workers who pay into the pension system and the number of retirees whose government pensions come out of it.

But opponents dispute the need for urgency. Even the official body that monitors France’s pension system has acknowledged that there is no immediate threat of bankruptcy and that long-term deficits are hard to predict. Labor unions have accused Mr. Macron of rushing through the age increase without considering other ways of balancing the system.

The decision to push the bill through the National Assembly without a vote on Thursday set off angry, often spontaneous protests across the country, some turning into fierce confrontations between riot police and unruly or violent protesters.

In Paris, demonstrators lit smoke bombs in the middle of a large shopping mall. In the southeastern city of Lyon, they tried to break into a town hall. In Nantes, to the west, they blocked a highway.

Constituency offices of lawmakers favorable to the pension bill were also scrawled with graffiti and pelted with rocks. Transportation, teacher and garbage collector strikes are still continuing in some areas.

“If the motion is not passed, people will continue to fight to reverse the reform,” said Raphaël Masmejean, 31, on Friday night in central Paris at the Place de la Concorde, where protesters had lit a large fire in view of the National Assembly building.

The objective of the protests, many there said, was to increase pressure on lawmakers to punish the government on Monday.

That pressure is especially high on representatives of the mainstream conservative Republican party. About half of the Republican lawmakers in the National Assembly — roughly 30 or so — would be needed to pass the no-confidence motion that was filed by independent lawmakers.

“All is in the hands of these 30-or-so Republicans who are hostile to the reform,” Charles de Courson, a high-profile independent lawmaker, told France Inter radio on Monday.

On Saturday night, protesters threw stones at the office of the Republican party president in Nice, on the French Riviera, and left a message scrawled on a wall: “The motion or the cobblestone.”

Republican lawmakers are split. The party’s leadership, which backed the pension bill in exchange for some concessions, has said repeatedly that it did not want to topple the government, and most of the party’s lawmakers are expected to follow that line.

But Aurélien Pradié, a Republican lawmaker from the rural Lot area of southwestern France who opposes the pension bill and has become a leader of sorts for party rebels, announced on Monday morning that he would vote in favor of the no-confidence motion.

“This law is poisoned, because it is full of democratic failings,” Mr. Pradié told Europe 1 radio.

He estimated that about 15 Republican lawmakers might vote like him — still short of the number required for a no-confidence motion to succeed. But, he added, if the vote had become so close, “it is because there is a deep democratic rupture in our country.”

Multiple no-confidence motions against Mr. Macron’s government failed late last year after it pushed through several budget bills, and his allies have insisted that the opposition is in no position to govern. Bruno Le Maire, the economy minister, described the opposition as a “clownish carriage” of far-left, far-right and independent lawmakers in an interview with the newspaper Le Parisien.

In a sign of the growing pressure on him, Mr. Macron was forced to appeal for calm on Sunday, and he also added that “after months of political and social consultations and more than 170 hours of debate,” he wanted the pension bill to “run its democratic course, in a manner respectful to all.”

One study by the Elabe polling institute published on Monday by the BFMTV news channel found that 68 percent of those surveyed felt “angry” about the decision to push the bill through without a vote, and that the same percentage wanted a no-confidence motion against the government to succeed.

In an interview on Sunday with the newspaper Libération, Laurent Berger, the head of the country’s largest union, the French Democratic Confederation of Labor, said that Mr. Macron’s reform was “a disaster,” and he urged him not to enact the pension changes even if they became law.

“We have gone from a feeling of scorn to a feeling of anger” because of the decision to push the bill through without a vote, Mr. Berger said, even as he condemned the violent outbursts that marred protests in Paris and other cities last week. Labor unions have called for a ninth official protest on Thursday, but have been mostly absent from the weekend melees.

The Paris police eventually banned protests last week on the Place de la Concorde and the nearby Champs-Élysées avenue, citing “risks of disturbances to public order” after two days of violent nighttime clashes between riot police and protesters who lit trash fires and threw cobblestones. Dozens of protesters were arrested throughout the country over the weekend, amid a forceful police presence.

At the Place de la Concorde on Friday, Hélène Aldeguer, 29, called the decision to push the bill through without a vote “unbelievable and not surprising at the same time.”

“It personifies Macron’s use of power and position,” said Ms. Aldeguer, a comic book artist. “He is isolated.”

Catherine Porter and Constant Méheut contributed reporting.

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