The meeting was fixed at the bar-tobacco of La Poste, in the center of Saint-Pair-sur-Mer, a small seaside resort stuck to Granville. At the counter, the conversation revolves around pension reform. “It’s always the little ones who drink,” says a customer. Five minutes later, the same man shakes the hand of Bertrand Sorre, Renaissance deputy for this southern part of the Cotentin, who has just pushed the door.
Re-elected in 2022 with 64% of the vote, this former teacher is one of the two representatives of the presidential majority in the National Assembly from the Channel, a department divided into four constituencies. He returned to his land on Thursday March 16, just after the outbreak of 49.3 to pass the decried law, and did not change anything in his program, even if the prefecture called on him to be careful. “I don’t feel threatened at all,” he said. I know the people, I am a child of the country, it is a territory in which we respect those we have elected, even if we do not agree with them. »
“We had to go to the end of the vote, even if it meant losing”
Last Friday, Bertrand Sorre attended the general assembly of the departmental federation of farmers’ unions (FDSEA). “There are a few people who yelled at me to say to me: ‘Bertrand, you’re pissing us off with pensions’, but people have rather complained about the attitude of certain deputies who are making a mess of the National Assembly “, he assures. At most, his mailbox was flooded with messages of unknown origin asking him to vote for the motion of censure on Monday March 20. “Which I obviously won’t do. »
He himself did not want the “49.3”. “This reform is so important in the lives of the French that we had to go to the end of the vote, even if it means losing,” he explains. In front of a cup of coffee, the MP does not hide the fact that his camp has not always been to his advantage in this file. “Even if it’s easy to say after the fact, we could have made the reform more acceptable,” he euphemizes. He nevertheless believes in its necessity. “My fear for the future is the violence in the street. »
Bertrand Sorre was ultimately not spared. On Sunday March 19, he indicated that his personal home had been the target of damage to the gas and electricity supply system. His accommodation was temporarily deprived of a source of energy. The elected official made the link between these malicious acts and his political commitment. He will file a complaint for “attempt to influence an elected representative of the Republic”.
A hundred kilometers further north, in Cherbourg, others do not hide their frontal opposition to the reform, but in a peaceful manner. On Saturday March 18, demonstrators – there were 2,500 according to the unions and 1,500 according to the police – marched through the streets of the most populous city in La Manche, an industrial and union stronghold. A few students joined the march, like Maya. She “wants to believe” that this mobilization will eventually pay off. “In any case, I will do everything I can to change that,” she continues. Including by throwing cobblestones, like others in Paris or Rennes? “No, that’s not my style,” she replies with a laugh.
The shared initiative referendum, a way out of the crisis?
Behind her, in the middle of the procession, Anna Pic advances with her tricolor MP scarf under the banner of the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes). In 2022, this socialist took over from the Macronists the constituency which was that of Bernard Cazeneuve. At 44, this is his first term as a deputy. “Not voting on this reform was a major mistake by President Macron, she judges. Retirement is a social issue, people cannot understand this forced passage. But it’s not over, we are also on the ground to explain that we still have institutional and constitutional means and that we are going to use them. »
On Monday, the parliamentarian will return to Paris to bring her voice to the motion of censure tabled by the Freedoms, Independents, Overseas and Territories (Liot) group. “We want the withdrawal of this reform which has no majority, and nothing else, she recalls. The motion can be voted on by anyone who thinks that this project cannot be implemented. She also thinks of the shared initiative referendum process, the RIP. “We have to find a political outlet for this movement, and the RIP is one of them,” she continues.
For Anna Pic, the formula makes it possible “to maintain mobilization, without breaking representative democracy, by reaffirming the link between the population and its representatives”. She also fears excesses: “The anger that was expressed with the yellow vests has not disappeared. People say to themselves: “Every time we have been listened to, it is because we have messed up.” It’s terrible for democracy. »
“At LR, we have a share of responsibility in the situation”
In Saint-Lô, the capital of La Manche, between 150 and 200 people also demonstrated at the call of the local inter-union, Saturday March 18. An open letter was read to the LR deputy, Philippe Gosselin, a strong supporter of the reform, so that he votes for the motion of censure. The elected official, who is in his fourth consecutive term, has also received a myriad of emails on this subject. “I’m not going to add chaos to chaos,” he retorts.
The previous Wednesday, trade unionists had pasted around fifty posters on the window of his office. “I don’t take it lightly, but it remains in the classic democratic game, comments this social Gaullist. I have known more virulent things. He too was at the general assembly of the FDSEA. “We were mainly challenged on the atmosphere at the Assembly, more than on the retreats”, he says in turn.
Some also questioned him about the refusal of some of his people to vote for the reform. “At LR, we have a share of responsibility in the situation, we must not deny it, but we do not have all the responsibility”, he notes. All weekend, he criss-crossed his sector, agricultural and rural, as usual. On Sunday, he was in Remilly-les-Marais, the village of his childhood, for an exhibition of old tractors and vehicles. We didn’t talk to him about retirement. “I get fresh ideas, far from the Assembly”, he says.
Le Normand likes to recall that Tocqueville would have described the Manchois as being “violently moderate”. “But even with us, you feel tension, people are on edge,” he says. There is a social climate that aggregates many things, pensions, inflation, the fear of losing everything. Be careful not to play with fire. When the grenade is unpinned, you don’t know where it will go. Sometimes she farts in your face. Monday, he will not be in the hemicycle. He will receive in his permanence. Meetings of half an hour, “like the medics”.
The future course of the law
The National Assembly examines Monday, March 20 at 4 p.m. the two motions of censure tabled after the use of Article 49.3 of the Constitution by the Prime Minister.
It would be enough for one to collect at least 287 votes to overthrow the government; otherwise, the pension reform will be considered adopted.
Emmanuel Macron will then have fifteen days to promulgate the law, unless 60 deputies or 60 senators file an appeal with the Constitutional Council, which will have one month to rule (eight days if the government activates the emergency procedure).
252 Nupes parliamentarians also launched a shared initiative referendum on the law on Friday March 17. The Constitutional Council has one month to verify compliance with the scope of the referendum and that it does not aim to “repeal a legislative provision promulgated less than a year ago”. A promulgation of the law before the decision of the Constitutional Council would therefore make the referendum impossible.
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