No place in the United States

Labor protests occur in response to undemocratic actions by French government

Editorial Board

Across France, massive labor protests and strikes are taking place in response to legislation being forced through the country’s parliament by President Emmanuel Macron. The legislation in question would raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 64, eliminating a percentage of the government funding required to fulfill pensions for retired individuals, according to Archie Bland in an article from The Guardian

The French public holds the pension system in high regard and considers it a shining example of what social programs like this can do to eliminate poverty, especially for retired workers. “They are proud of the fact that French pensioners are less likely to live in poverty than those in most other European countries,” Bland wrote. 

Due to this, any proposed changes to the system are naturally unpopular. This latest push for reform by President Macron has resulted in massive labor strikes across the country with the intent of slowing or reversing the passing of the legislation; however, the situation hit critical mass when Macron decided to bypass parliament and implement his deeply unpopular legislation without a democratic vote. 

Unfortunately, this undemocratic action will likely go unpunished until the next election cycle. Macron’s government even survived a bipartisan no-confidence vote in the French parliament. Many lawmakers — emboldened by the labor strikes and the people urging them to take action — filed the motion in an attempt to hold Macron accountable. According to Politico, French parliament member Charles de Courson, one of the motion’s authors, stated, “You could have submitted [your reform] to a vote, and you probably would have lost it, but that’s the game when you are in a democracy.”

The situation occurring in France may seem a world away to some Americans, but it serves as an important example of what happens when a government takes unilateral, undemocratic actions not approved by its citizens. This has not only occurred in France but in the United States as well. Case in point, the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, as well as the corresponding nationwide push against abortion access by Republicans despite the position of upholding access to abortion remaining extremely popular.

 As citizens, we must ensure that our government acts in our best interests and does not trample on the democratic process in order to pass unpopular reform. It is our responsibility to uphold the notion that our government reflects our will and shapes our society in ways that we approve of. Undemocratic actions such as those taken by President Macron have no place in the United States.