Macron Plots Next Move After Bitter Victory in Pensions Dispute

France was waiting for President Emmanuel Macron’s next steps on Tuesday after his government barely survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament, ensuring that his unpopular pension overhaul became law but doing little to quell the swirling political uncertainty about the future of his second term.

Despite months of massive street protests and strikes, Mr. Macron has said little publicly about his pension overhaul, which increases the legal retirement age to 64, from 62, and he had mostly left members of his cabinet to defend it.

Mr. Macron is expected on Wednesday to publicly address the political turmoil and popular anger surrounding his pension plan for the first time in a television interview.

The overhaul was never popular, and discontent intensified after he chose to ram his pension bill through the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, without a vote, because of his inability to secure a majority to pass the legislation.

With 278 votes in favor, the main no-confidence motion on Monday fell only nine votes short of succeeding — a much smaller margin than initially expected, and a sign that Mr. Macron’s political troubles are far from over.

A minority of lawmakers are expressing doubts even within Mr. Macron’s own party, Renaissance, and suggesting he should try to calm the country by setting aside the pension overhaul instead of forging ahead with it.

“We have to put this pension reform on standby,” Patrick Vignal, a Renaissance lawmaker, told the radio station Franceinfo on Tuesday.

“We need this pension reform,” Mr. Vignal added. But he said that the public had lost trust in the government and needed to be heard. “We can’t always govern with the 49.3,” he said, referring to the article of the French Constitution that allowed Mr. Macron’s government to push the bill through the lower house without a vote.

Others also insisted business as usual was no longer possible.

“We are all weakened. The president, the government and the majority,” Gilles Le Gendre, a senior Renaissance lawmaker, told the newspaper Libération on Tuesday. “The worst enemy,” he added, “is denial.”

But Mr. Macron’s government said it was determined to stay the course. The president was holding a flurry of meetings with top cabinet ministers and political allies on Tuesday to chart his next moves.

Olivier Véran, the French government spokesman, speaking to RTL radio on Tuesday, dismissed the no-confidence motion as an unnatural alliance of opposition parties interested only in toppling the government and incapable of ruling.

“The prime minister and our majority are the only ones that have a project to govern today,” Mr. Véran said.

Vowing to continue the fight, opposition parties on both the left and right are filing challenges against the new pension law before the Constitutional Council — a body that reviews legislation to ensure it complies with the French Constitution.

So far, the government has expressed confidence that the core of the law would stand, and the office of Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne said she would also refer the law to the council as quickly as possible to ensure that it was quickly implemented.

Left-wing lawmakers also filed a request to the council on Monday evening, asking it to clear the way for a referendum that would let French voters decide whether to set a maximum legal age of retirement of 62.

The vote would take place only if those calling for it can collect supporting signatures from at least five million citizens within the next nine months, a long and complex process.

But it was on the streets that opponents of the pension law mainly vented their anger.

Shortly after the no-confidence motion was rejected on Monday, thousands of people held spontaneous demonstrations across France. In Paris, marches of a few hundred protesters crisscrossed the capital for several hours at night, chanting slogans and booing the government.

Some protests turned violent, with small groups rampaging through the streets in a cat-and-mouse game with the police.

The protesters set fire to piles of uncollected trash that had lain on the sidewalks for days, because of a strike by garbage collectors. An avenue in the capital’s Latin Quarter was littered with smoldering ashes of trash, with firefighters bustling around to put out the last flames, and overturned trash cans.

A few blocks away, tension was palpable on the Place Vauban, near the National Assembly, where hundreds of mostly young protesters had gathered. Police officers in riot gear had completely cordoned off the entrances to the square, even though the protest had been approved.

“It’s amazing — you can see that the gathering is peaceful,” said Jérôme Legavre, a lawmaker from the hard-left party France Unbowed. “We have a government that’s at an impasse and responds by an unbelievable number of police.”

Mr. Legavre and some of his colleagues had joined the protest to show their support but also in the hope that their presence would prevent potential clashes with the police. Over 280 people were arrested across the country overnight, according to the police.

Labor unions have scheduled a ninth day of nationwide street protests and strikes on Thursday. While none of the strikes so far have ground France to a halt, blockages and walkouts in some sectors have lasted longer and been more disruptive, leading the government to harden its response.

In Paris, the local police prefecture said on Tuesday that it had commandeered over 670 workers to clear out the trash.

In the Bouches-du-Rhône area in southern France, where some gas stations were starting to run dry, the local authorities said they were commandeering workers at a fuel depot — one of several critical energy or transportation facilities, like refineries or ports, that have been shut down or blocked over the past week by striking workers.

“We don’t want chaos,” Frédéric Souillot, the head of Force Ouvrière, one of the main labor unions, told the BFMTV news channel on Tuesday. “We want to be heard.”

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