By Nur Asena Erturk
ANKARA (AA) – French President Emmanuel Macron did not budge an inch from his decision on pension reform, as he said Wednesday that a reform in the pension system is a must.
In an interview with broadcasters France 2 and TF1, Macron explained that this reform "is not a luxury, nor a pleasure, but a necessity."
The bill will pursue its democratic path, the president said, who was speaking for the first time since the government forced through the controversial plan on Monday by a constitutional move.
"This reform must enter into force this year," he continued.
Macron also said he is ready to "assume losing popularity" for the sake of general interest.
He recalled in this context that he cannot be a presidential candidate anymore, according to the constitution.
The French president also expressed confidence in Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in "leading this governmental team."
Acknowledging the furor of the trade unions and the French people, Macron stressed that he wants to reengage in the dialogue with the social partners about the working conditions.
The French leader also formulated three priorities – full employment, strengthening the order of the republic, and progress to live better in terms of education, health and ecology.
- Pension reform plan, source of popular furor
The French government used special constitutional powers last week to force the plan through, prompting opposing parties to submit no-confidence motions over the measure that would increase the retirement age.
Members of the parliament rejected both censure motions, however, so officially adopting the draft bill.
Macron and Borne decided to invoke Article 49.3 of the constitution, a mechanism that lets the government adopt the draft bill without parliamentary approval.
The decision was driven by fear that lawmakers would be able to block the reforms as the government does not hold an absolute majority in the legislature.
The government revealed the reform project in January and parliament started examining and debating the draft bill the following month.
Workers and trade unions have since expressed growing outrage by holding demonstrations and walkouts.
The reform project includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030, requiring at least 43 years of work to be eligible for a full pension.