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French Left-Wing Senators to Request Referendum on Pension Reform: Opposition Leader

© AP Photo / Jean-Francois BadiasProtestors march with walkers as they demonstrate against proposed pension changes,Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023 in Strasbourg, eastern France.
Protestors march with walkers as they demonstrate against proposed pension changes,Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023 in Strasbourg, eastern France.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.03.2023
PARIS (Sputnik) - Members of the French upper house belonging to left-wing parties will submit a proposal to hold a referendum on the controversial pension reform bill on March 3 amid nationwide strikes, senator Patrick Kanner, representing the Socialist-Green-Republican alliance, said Thursday.
"We will oppose it. We are strongly against this reform; it is a regression of our social policies. We will fight it. The president and the government want to force it through, despite the opposition from a large number of French people. Together with our colleagues, we will petition for a referendum to show the French that we want to consult with them," Kanner told a press conference broadcast on the Public Senat channel, which covers parliament news.
The French upper house is starting hearings on the pension reform bill on Thursday. Kanner said the petition would be submitted on Friday.
The petition must be approved by a majority vote, but the left-wing coalition in the senate has only 64 seats, while the majority is comprised of the centrist-to-right Republican deputies and representatives of the Union of Democrats and Independents. Even if the petition ends up approved by majority lawmakers, the French president has the final word on the referendum, according to Article 11 of the French constitution.
In February, the left-wing coalition New Ecological and Social People's Union (Nupes) in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, also initiated a petition for a referendum on the pension reform bill, but it did not get enough votes.
In January, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne unveiled a draft of the controversial pension reform that the government plans to adopt in 2023. Under the initiative, the French authorities intend to gradually raise the retirement age in the country by three months a year from September 1, 2023. By 2030, the retirement age will reach 64.
A protestor holds a placard which reads as 'retirement before arthritis' during a rally in Lyon, on January 19, 2023.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.02.2023
Almost 75% of France's Residents Support Further Protests Against Pension Reform, Media Reports
This pension reform has caused a wave of protests in French society. Since Borne's announcement, five nationwide demonstrations against the reform have already taken place in France. The first two, held on January 19 and 31, gathered over 1 million people nationwide. The next demonstration is scheduled for March 7 amid strikes in almost all sectors of the economy.
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