Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Macron is courting his Waterloo over pension reform

By Michele Barbero

24 Jan 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

France’s president wants to raise the country’s minimum retirement age. For many French people, who enjoy some of the world’s best pension benefits, that’s practically heresy. FP has the story.

PARIS—France may be in for months of social unrest, as French President Emmanuel Macron plows ahead with his controversial bid to reform one of Europe’s most generous pension systems, unfazed by the 1 to 2 million protesters that took to the streets last week as part of a first wave of paralyzing strikes.

It’s a make-or-break moment for Macron, whose legacy as a reformer will largely depend on his ability to overcome France’s powerful trade unions and impose a wildly unpopular bill that would force many French to work longer. Much of the developed world faces a similar dilemma, striving to keep retirement schemes afloat in the face of aging populations amid fierce debates about who should foot the bill. 

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