Macron attacked for ‘badly running’ France as Conservative lashes out at ‘inexperience’ | World | News

The young centrist is locked in a battle with hard-left unions over his pension reform plans, which critics say will force millions of French people to work longer for less.

“France is more divided than ever,” Mr Bertrand, president of the northern Hauts-de-France region, told the news channel BFM-TV.

“Our country is being badly run. Things are worse today than they were before Mr Macron took power.”

The veteran right-winger also launched a scathing attack on the 42-year-old president’s political inexperience, saying: “Having an intelligent president does not make up for his lack of experience.”

Mr Macron, a pro-Europe centrist and former investment banker, was just 39 when he won power in May 2017.

He successfully shattered the traditional mainstream parties on the right and left with a promise to revive France’s fortunes by cleaning up politics and relaxing regulations investors say shackle the eurozone’s second-biggest economy.

But his tough social and economic agenda has sparked widespread urban unrest and badly dented his government’s authority.

His administration has been locked in a sometimes violent battle with far-left unions over the fate of France’s unwieldly and expensive pension system since early December, with both sides refusing to give ground.

Mr Macron wants to streamline the existing set-up of 42 different pension schemes, each with their own levels of contributions and benefits, into a single, points-based system that gives every pensioner the same rights for each euro contributed.

The president says the myriad special benefits handed out to different types of workers under the existing system hamper ongoing efforts to create a more flexible labour market.

But hard-left unions such as the CGT and FO argue that Mr Macron’s pension overhaul will force millions of French people to work longer for a smaller retirement payout. They are demanding the reform be scrapped altogether, and have threatened industrial action for months to come.

The protest movement, however, has run out of steam following a string of concessions by the government, particularly the withdrawal of its controversial plan to increase the full-pension age to 64 from 62.

The standoff is widely seen as a key litmus test of Mr Macron’s ability to transform France.

If he succeeds in defeating the unions – he has already succeeded in reforming the state-run SNCF railway firm and in loosening labour laws – he will be able to implement further pro-business reforms unhindered as he eyes re-election in 2022.

At 14 percent of economic output, French spending on public pensions is among the highest in the industrialised world. But the Macron government has warned that the system is staring at a potential deficit of £14.4 billion (17 billion euros) by 2025 if nothing is done.  

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: