President Emmanuel Macron of France defeated a no-confidence vote following public outrage over his effort to raise the national retirement age.
France’s lower house of parliament fell just nine votes short of the required 287 votes to end Macron’s government. MPs from both left- and right-wing parties voted in favor of the no-confidence motions.
The proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 is now considered adopted.
A second no-confidence motion led by the right-wing National Rally, which is headed by Marine La Pen, received just 94 votes.
Macron raised the retirement age on March 16 without a legislative vote through powers granted to him by Article 49.3 of the French Constitution. At the time, the nation’s Senate had adopted the bill following a 193-114 vote. The move enraged France’s Parliament, which in turn had 24 hours to decide to file a no-confidence motion against Macron’s government.
Addressing a crowd in Concorde after Macron’s actions, Leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said the president had gone “over the heads of the will of the people,” per ABC News.
Opposition to the change remains fervent across the political spectrum.
“Only nine votes are missing … to bring both the government down and its reform down,” said MP Mathilde Panot, whom AP News described as a hard-left lawmaker. “The government is already dead in the eyes of the French, it doesn’t have any legitimacy any more.”
“No matter what the outcome is … you have failed to convince the French,” said Laure Lavalette of National Rally.
French citizens have repeatedly taken to the streets to protest the changes to the pension system. As a result, the nation has experienced transportation delays, increases in unremoved trash and blockades at fuel stations.
Although many protests in many cities were nonviolent, authorities in Paris had banned gatherings on the Champs-Elysées avenue and Place de la Concorde over the weekend after protests threw a cardboard cut-out of Macron on a bonfire on March 17. Thousands gathered to protest and light trash cans on fire in south Paris on March 18.
“The outcome of the first vote was much tighter than anticipated and increases the pressure on Macron to withdraw his reform,” reports Politico. “It may also give a boost to the protest movement led by trade unions against the measures. The French president will also be under pressure to respond either by addressing the country or reshuffling his government.”
Macron has argued that raising the retirement age would prevent the pension system from taking on a deficit as people in France live longer and average life expectancy increases, per The Hill.
Had the no-confidence motion been successful, Macron and his government would have been obligated to resign.