French Communist leader refuses to meet Macron’s PM until pension scheme withdrawn
French lawmaker Fabien Roussel, General Secretary of the French Communist Party, reacts with a gesture indicating 'zero support' as Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne speaks at the National Assembly in Paris, March 20, 2023. Borne's boss, President Emmanuel Macron, used special constitutional powers to force through an unpopular bill raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 without giving parliament a vote. | Lewis Joly / AP

The leader of the French Communists, Fabien Roussel, has refused to meet with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne until her boss, President Emmanuel Macron, backs down on his plan to raise the retirement age of French workers.

Roussell, who is General Secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF), called for members of parliament to march on the Élysée Palace, Macron’s residence, to demand the scrapping of the pension reforms.

Borne has insisted she intends to press ahead with the unpopular changes, however, which raise the pension age from 62 to 64.

In an interview for France Inter television this weekend, Roussel said: “I tell the Prime Minister to hear our anger as parliamentarians.”

Borne recently used a highly controversial clause in the French constitution which allows the prime minister to force through the laws without a vote, a tactic she has turned to previously when Macron was unable to get the support of lawmakers for his plans.

Speaking about the undemocratic decree strategy, Roussel said, “I was elected less than a year ago and I have already been deprived of my vote 11 times!” Criticizing the autocratic impulses of the government, Roussel continued, saying, “We do not feel respected.”

The PCF leader, who is himself a member of parliament, said that Borne had told him during a telephone call that she did not intend “to put the reform on hold,” at the meeting.

“I warned her of the risk of social chaos in the country if the government remained intransigent.”

He said he and his fellow parliamentarians would march from the National Assembly to the palace if Macron doesn’t reverse his government’s dictatorial decree.

Roussel, who hails from a Communist family, began his political activism with the Mouvement des jeunes communistes de France (Movement of Young Communists of France, MJCF) at the age of 16 as an anti-apartheid activist.

He has been a member of the National Assembly since 2017 and was elected PCF leader in 2018. Two years ago, he was the Communist nominee for president of France.

His party not only opposes Macron’s effort to raise the retirement age, it actually advocates going in the opposite direction, lowering it to 60.

This article features material from Morning Star and other sources.

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