Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday appealed to the “general interest” to defend the unpopular pension reform that has turned most French people against him, led to two no-confidence motions and put France on the brink of a political and social crisis. The president has declared himself willing to accept the unpopularity of his fellow citizens for a law that raises the retirement age from 62 to 64 years.

“This reform is not a luxury, it is not a pleasure, it is a necessity for the country,” the French president said in an interview on the 1 pm news on TF1 and France. “I would have preferred not to, but it’s my responsibility, it’s in the general interest”

Macron, who ends his second and final term in 2027, added: “Between short-term polls and the general interest of the country, I choose the general interest of the country, and if unpopularity has to be assumed today, I will.” .

Macron confirmed that, after review of the reform by the Constitutional Court, his intention is for it to enter into force “before the end of the year”. He has therefore ruled out repealing the law and, for the time being, rules out the sacking of his prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, who on Monday narrowly survived a motion of no confidence. Much less call for early elections or a referendum on the law, as some in the opposition are calling for.

The interview served more to explain and justify his decision than to announce new measures or changes. But the president admitted that during the protests “a sense of injustice” was expressed in France that the government must confront. He promised measures for large companies with extraordinary profits to distribute a portion among wage earners and improve working conditions and wages.

Regarding the tensions in the streets in recent days and the episodes of threats to elected officials and deputies, after two months of peaceful demonstrations, he declared: “We will not tolerate any spillover”. He specified, however, that “we must listen to legitimate anger, which is not violence”.

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Macron took the floor after staying in the background for weeks and avoiding intervening in the debate over pension reform. The intervention, in original format as a simultaneous interview on the midday news, comes after a week of high political and social tension in France.

Last Thursday, the president, upon verifying that he did not have a majority in the National Assembly to adopt the reform, activated article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows imposing a law for evasion of the vote. Accusing the Government of acting in an undemocratic way, the opposition presented two motions of censure, the only way to stop the reform and, at the same time, overthrow the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne.

One of the motions received 278 votes, nine short of the majority. The reform was approved, but the result did not calm the revolt in the streets. Paris and several French cities have already seen six nights of spontaneous protests and riots. Unions have called a large national demonstration for Thursday, the ninth since the protests began in January.

The interview was about, for the President of the Republic, resuming the pulse of the country, after the divorce that led to the pension reform. To persuade and appease. The task will be difficult.

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