French PM bets there will be majority to pass pension reform
PARIS, March 14 (Reuters) - French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Tuesday said she was confident she would manage to pull together a majority in parliament to pass a reform that will see the French work two years more to 64 before being entitled to a pension.
France has been hit by rolling strikes against the very unpopular reform, with key refineries blocked, railway transport disrupted and garbage piling up on the streets of Paris and other cities.
President Emmanuel Macron's camp does not have an absolute majority in the lower house of parliament and depends on the vote of lawmakers from other groups - with a lot of questions raised over whether the numbers would add up.
"A majority exists that is not afraid of reforms, even unpopular ones, when they are necessary," Borne told the lower house of parliament.
One option would be to resort to a procedure, known as 49:3, which would allow the government to push the text through parliament without a vote, but that would risk further angering protesters, and Borne said she wanted a vote to take place.
"With my government, we are fully committed so that in the next few days, a majority votes for the pension reform," Borne told lawmakers.
The next step, scheduled for Wednesday, is the convening of a joint committee of lower and upper house lawmakers to agree on a definitive version of the text. That day, unions plan a new day of strikes and protests.
The last and crucial moment would be a final vote, Thursday, in both houses.
Macron's party needs the support of Les Republicains to ensure the bill is approved. But the conservative lawmakers are very divided on the issue and there are even cracks in the presidential camp, with Macron's former environment minister Barbara Pompili opposing it.
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