PARIS (Realist English). In France, we are now witnessing a new broad social movement after the “yellow vests” of 2018-2019. Assessing the balance of power between the street and Emmanuel Macron, we must remember that the French president has nothing to lose now. The implementation of the reform was planned during Macron’s first term (he promised to carry it out in 2017), but the pandemic adjusted the plans. An important role in the refusal to pedal this reform was played by an ambitious desire to be re-elected for the second term. There is nothing holding the president back now. Macron understands that after the completion of the second mandate, he will lose power. On the other hand, the economic elites of France supported him precisely so that he would promote the interests of Big business, which is what the French leader is doing now, carrying out the socially painful pension reform.
It should also be remembered that France is historically a left-leaning country. This tradition was founded by the French Revolution of the late XVIII century. In the XIX century, the solution of controversial issues between the government and society was often reduced to revolutions and riots. Therefore, the love of rallying is in the blood of the French.
However, the current situation is in many respects a dead-end. Macron, realizing that he would become an outcast president for the French, has used a legal ploy to approve this bill without a vote in parliament, which, of course, would not have passed in the usual way in parliament. The fact that Macron will resign is not worth thinking about. The maximum he could do is sacrifice Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne, but this sacrifice is reserved for the most extreme case, which may not come.
At the same time, there have been many rallies and demonstrations in the recent history of France that have led to nothing. The situation is worsened by the fact that the French economy is now in a deplorable state, the national debt has grown significantly, and the pandemic has made its sad contribution to this process. The pension reform was postponed for many years long before Macron’s presidency, realizing all its unpopularity and the fact that its implementation would bury the political career of any president.
But now, from the position of the authorities, the pension reform looks like a forced and uncontested measure that cannot be postponed indefinitely again. In the eyes of ordinary French workers, the banquet is held at their expense, and not at the expense of powerful corporations and the Big business. Which is, at least, unfair, and France is a country of social justice, or at least it has positioned itself that way.
The way out is nowhere to be seen. Will the government make forced concessions, and who will be the first to blink? It’s too early to make predictions, because a lot depends on a lot of random factors that cannot be calculated in advance.
It is already clear that the project of the social state, which has served as an alternative to the Soviet system in the second half of the XX century, is being closed in Europe. France has largely been the showcase of this European project. But now we have to find out to what extent the French are the real actors in the historical process. We will have to find out the answers to all these questions in the future.
Igor Ignatchenko is Candidate of Sciences (History), linguist, associate Professor of the Institute of Social Sciences of the RANEPA, special to the Realist News Agancy