Macron wants pension reform by decree

After inconclusive negotiations in the National Assembly, the French government now wants to push though its controversial pension reform by decree. Commentators discuss whether Emmanuel Macron is undermining democratic principles by resorting to this constitutional instrument.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

This is not democracy

The Süddeutsche Zeitung is seriously concerned about France's democratic traditions:

“First, opponents of the reform demonstrate violently against the pension plan before its contents are even made public. Then the opposition wants to destroy the law with thousands of amendments, just for the fun of trashing it. Now the government is using an emergency paragraph to override parliament. The fact that this is a tried and tested trick in the Fifth Republic doesn't make it any better. At a time when extremist ideas are gaining ground, such constitutionally legitimated authoritarianism is particularly disastrous: it promotes a form of confrontation and aggressiveness in which opponents no longer meet in a democratic spirit. The result: the reform is botched, parliament weakened - but Macron isn't any stronger.”

Libération (FR) /

Pushing a law through isn't a putsch

The procedure is set out in Article 49.3 of the constitution and the accusations of authoritarianism don't hold water, Libération writes:

“The debate is by no means over. The text will go to the Senate, where there is no such article. ... Then it will come back to the National Assembly. So after the 49.3 procedure, debate will continue. The law is being pushed through, yes, but this is a far cry from a putsch. Necessary changes have been taken into account, and others will follow. The law will be clarified, completed, improved and adopted. Article 49.3 will have worked, but parliamentary democracy is not in danger. Emmanuel Macron has an authoritarian temperament and the Fifth Republic undeniably puts the executive above the legislative. But it's a myth to say the president wants to emulate Caesar.”