What possible scenarios for the law on pensions? motion of censure, “CPE scenario”, constitutional censure, referendum…
The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, hired on Thursday March 16 the responsibility of his government on pension reform by resorting to Article 49.3 of the Constitution. In the following twenty-four hours, the deputies have the possibility of replying with a motion of censure against the government. Two texts have actually been tabled Friday: one by the National Rally group, the other, presented as “transpartisan”, by the centrist group Libertés, Indépendants, Overseas Territories and Territories (LIOT), supported in particular by the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes ). They should be put to the vote on Monday, March 20, in the National Assembly. What are the possible scenarios then?
In case of adoption of a motion of censure
- Is the pension reform definitively buried?
If one of the motions of censure is voted by the majority of the deputies, the law is rejected and the government is reversed. The adoption of a motion of censure by a majority of deputies would result in the rejection of the text drafted by the Mixed parity commission (CMP) and, probably, by abandoning this bill.
We can however envisage, from a strictly legislative point of view, that the process continues with a new reading, which is the usual continuation of the legislative procedure in the event of rejection of a text proposed by the CMP; the bill would then be reconsidered by the National Assembly and the Senate. If this hypothesis is legally founded, it seems politically untenable. It is indeed difficult to imagine that a future government will be able to resume this reform.
- Will new elections be held?
If a motion of censure constitutes a major political setback, it does not oblige the Head of State to dissolve the National Assembly. The latter can compose by appointing a new government and negotiate or postpone certain bills.
However, it is possible to resolve a political crisis: under article 12, the president has the possibility of dissolving the National Assembly after consulting the prime minister and the presidents of the two assemblies. New elections are then organized within twenty to forty days. It is still necessary that the majority resulting from these elections be more favorable to him, which constitutes a risky bet.
In case of rejection of motions of censure
The failure of the no-confidence motions remains the most likely scenario, given the current composition of the National Assembly, resulting in the final adoption of the bill. However, there are still some possible obstacles before its effective implementation.
- Is a political withdrawal from the reform possible in the face of very strong social mobilization?
The example of first employment contract (CPE) of 2006 is often cited. This law, which created a special youth CDI with a trial period of two years, was also adopted with the use of 49.3 by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, then promulgated. But it was suspended immediately, and removed by a new vote.
This exceptional reaction from the executive was the response to a situation of extreme social tension and very strong protest: blockades of universities and then high schools, up to three million demonstrators in the street, events punctuated by violent clashes between participants and the police and a public opinion favorable to the demonstrators.
- Can the Constitutional Council censure the bill?
Within fifteen days of the final adoption of a law, the Constitutional Council can be entered by at least 60 parliamentarians. The head of the deputies La France insoumise (LFI), Mathilde Panot, has already announced that the left would launch this procedure. The referral, which suspends the time limit for the promulgation of the law, must be examined within one month. Article 61.3 of the Constitution allows the government to ask the Constitutional Council to examine the text urgently, which reduces the period to eight days.
Dominique Rousseau, professor of constitutional law, underlined, Friday March 17, on France News “the strong risks of unconstitutionality of this law, not so much on the bottom, but on the form. (…) There was not really a clear and sincere debate, but it is a constitutional requirement”.
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Parliament has been extremely constrained by the government, which has used a very large number of procedural instruments; recourse to article 47.1 of the Constitution to reduce the time of debates, refusal of admissibility of amendments by article 44.2, article 38 of the rules of the Senate to limit debates on an amendment, vote blocked by article 44.3 on the end of the text in the Senate, then recourse to article 49.3 on the whole of the text… These levers are in conformity with the Constitution taken independently, but their accumulation can lead to the questioning of “the clarity and sincerity of parliamentary debate” who is a constitutional requirement.
Asked by The worldJean-Philippe Derosier, constitutional expert and professor of public law at the University of Lille, adds another weakness of the text:
“Content-wise, the PLFSS must [projet de loi de financement de la sécurité sociale, qui englobe cette réforme] contains the subjects open to PLFSS, with the whole question of social riders. This is precisely why there is a question about the constitutionality of using this vehicle to reform pensions. »
- Is the organization of a shared initiative referendum (RIP) possible?
The organization of a referendum of shared initiative proposing the abandonment of the reform is theoretically possible, but constrained in time.
The RIP is a Law proposition which makes it possible to organize a popular consultation. She must be co-signed by at least one fifth of the members of Parliamenti.e. 185 deputies and senators – 252 parliamentarians, deputies from Nupes and senators from the various left-wing groups filed a request for RIP on Friday so that the legal retirement age cannot be raised beyond 62 years.
But where the process gets complicated is that the RIP cannot relate to the repeal of a legislative provision that has been in force for less than a year.
If the pension reform is adopted (in the event of rejection of the motion of censure), the Constitutional Council can be seized by the parliamentarians, having thirty days (or eight days if the government invokes urgency) to examine the text. However, this same Constitutional Council has the same time limit to validate the RIP proposal, after checking the number of applicants and the subject of the bill.
If the Constitutional Council validates the text of the RIP before the law on pension reform is promulgated, it then entrusts the organization of the collection of support to the Ministry of the Interior within nine months. If at least 10% of voters support this proposal, it must be examined in the National Assembly and the Senate, and if not submitted to a referendum by the President of the Republic.