Identical amendments, personal attacks… We tell you about the surrealist examination of the pension reform in committee

Identical amendments, personal attacks… We tell you about the surrealist examination of the pension reform in committee

The special pensions committee in the Assembly ended its work on the main part of the reform on Tuesday evening without being able to complete its examination, due to the plethora of amendments tabled by the opposition.

Examination in a special committee of the bill on pensions in the Assembly, on February 10, 2020 (MAXPPP)

This is unprecedented since the constitutional revision of 2008. Drowned in thousands of amendments, the special committee on pensions in the Assembly ended its work on the evening of Tuesday, February 12 without having completed the examination of the 65 articles. of the ordinary bill. It is therefore the version of the government which will be examined from February 17 in the hemicycle, without the small changes voted in committee.

“Our committee has done a lot of work: 75 hours of discussion and 5,566 amendments examined”, nevertheless welcomed its president (LREM), Brigitte Bourguignon. Faced with the obstruction assumed by the “rebels”, who had tabled more than 19,000 of the 22,000 or so amendments, the committee stalled for nine days. It will sit one last time on Wednesday to examine the organic aspect of the reform.

Here is what to remember from these heated debates, in a sometimes surreal atmosphere.

Almost 22,000 amendments, many of them identical

The 17 “rebellious” elected representatives alone tabled 19,357 amendments, or 88.9% of the total. It turns to “Absurdity”, denounced the Minister of Relations with Parliament, Marc Fesneau, pointing to LFI amendments removing each paragraph, including on minimum pension or hardship. Each of the LFI deputies presented between 1,133 and 1,143, and several signed exactly the same number, according to the franceinfo statement.

However, an employee of the group told AFP Factuel that all these amendments were “Identical”. This was the case, for example, of amendments n ° 22 321 by Clémentine Autain, n ° 22 326 by Bastien Lachaud, n ° 22 328 by Jean-Luc Mélenchon and n ° 22 332 by Adrien Quatennens. All four aimed to rewrite the title of the first chapter of the bill.

The “rebellious” elected officials are not the only ones to have presented similar amendments in all points. Communist parliamentarians Pierre Dharréville and Sébastien Jumel did the same, with their amendments n ° 20 542 and n ° 21 544, for example. Both were rejected.

Speaking time reduced to one minute

Tuesday February 4, Jean-Luc Mélenchon launches a “alert” on his Twitter account and calls his subscribers to the “relay”. According to the leader of La France insoumise, “The management of LREM has just imposed on the special committee #retraites the division by two of the speaking time of deputies”. “We will be entitled to 1 minute to defend our amendments”, he says.

In his tweet, Jean-Luc Mélenchon fails to provide a sizeable precision. The office – with an LREM majority – which heads the special committee has decided to reduce to one minute maximum, against two previously, the speaking time allocated to each deputy to defend his amendment, but only in the case of “Identical amendments”, “Filed by the same group”, as announced by Brigitte Bourguignon Tuesday evening. “Contempt for Parliament” castigated by the “rebellious”, socialists and communists.

A battle of words

“To sit in committee is not to besiege a committee”, launched Brigitte Bourguignon shortly after the opening of the discussions. During these nine days of debates, puns and verbal protests were plentiful. The same criticisms came back repeatedly to the opponents: impact study (which accompanies the pension reform project) “Rigged”reform “Fuzzy” or text “with holes in” due to the thirty or so prescriptions programmed by the government …

Communist Pierre Dharréville denounced a “Compulsive prescription disorder” government, calling on his colleagues to “resist” at this “Undermining the proper functioning of democracy”, joined by Stéphane Viry (LR), who pleaded not to “Distort the mandate” parliamentary.

The approximately 75 hours of debates were like “The Verdun of politics, each in trenches (…) For a quarter of an hour of good, you had three hours of bad”, summarizes a walker. “It’s legislative ZADism”, criticized the co-rapporteur of the bill, Olivier Véran.

A “Battle of words” claimed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon and which began from the title of the reform on the establishment of a “Universal pension system”. Universal? Not for the “rebellious” or the communists, who suggest renaming it “Inequitable system” or “Individualized”.

Sitting incidents

The president of the commission regularly suspended the exchanges when it was necessary to relieve the pressure. Like this time when after new criticisms in the majority on the quality of the debate, Adrien Quatennens (LFI) raised the tone: “We are only relaying a majority anger in the country”, “please, definitively repack your lessons of democracy!” “Everyone calm down”, Brigitte Bourguignon then launched into the hubbub, before suspending the meeting.

Another incident, when another “rebellious”, François Ruffin, evoked the controversy of the moment on the vote of the “walkers” against the extension of the leave in the event of the death of a child: “What damages Parliament the most is when there are scull votes.”“Please sir, you come back to the text”, asks Brigitte Bourguignon. “No, no, I haven’t finished”, continued the member, raising his voice, before a five-minute recess ordered by the president.

Playmobil inviting themselves into the debates

The room knows – fatigue helping – moments of laughter and feverish attacks. Symbols of this sometimes “playground” atmosphere, Playmobil toys were invited twice in the debates. Communist Sébastien Jumel thus attacked the “Heartless Playmobil” of LREM, in reference again to the quack on parental bereavement leave within the majority. “Enough”, “there is no heartless here”, “this is not the debate” of the day, replied the chairman of the committee.

The general rapporteur Guillaume Gouffier-Cha (LREM) referred to the small figures by referring the LFI deputies to their counter-project: “Fifteen anti-Macron pages and fifteen pages of major principles”, it really is “Playmobil, forward the stories, at home”.

Personal or “displaced” attacks

LREM deputy Guillaume Gouffier-Cha castigated Tuesday evening the “insinuations” and “Grotesque innuendos” of a “rebellious” parliamentarian targeting the “walker” Jacques Maire, co-rapporteur of the pension reform, about his past functions in the Axa insurance group. LFI MP Mathilde Panot presented him on Twitter as “An enarque who has passed from the senior administration to the management of Axa – which is delighted with the pension reform – professional living room and gold medalist! You said general interest?”

LR deputy Eric Woerth denounced in turn “Personal complaints” who “Distort parliamentary work. It usually reflects on the sources of this kind of unbearable rumors and suspicions. ”

In the same vein, the communist Sébastien Jumel was reframed by the president Brigitte Bourguignon after having criticized the bad “mine” majority deputies before their “Cuddle therapy session” with Emmanuel Macron. He was referring to the meeting between the head of state and the elected LREM. “It’s totally inappropriate”, retorted the member.

An extension of the debates on social networks

During these nine days, the parliamentary battle on pensions was also played out on the web. The political groups competed in creativity, between “Nutriscore” of the reform, educational vignettes and even parody clips… “The ‘rebels’ lead the struggle in the Assembly”, proclaim the LFI deputies in a mini-documentary on YouTube posted on February 5.

Socialist deputies have launched a dedicated site,, with a daily report of the discussions, section “Detox” or even lexicon of parliamentary procedure. Communist deputies tweeted videos of the special committee or excerpts from the government text crossed out in red like a schoolboy copy. On the right side, a watch cell has been set up within the LR group, ready to broadcast on social networks the adoption of amendments or strong interventions.

So much so that President Brigitte Bourguignon rose up in the “Quotidien” program to be targeted on the internet on the sidelines of the debates.