Article 49.3: Technocratic End-run Around Democracy

The French executive invoked Article 49.3 of the Constitution to push through the National Assembly a bill raising the retirement age without a vote. Article 49.3 was passed in 1958 to give the government the ability to pass legislation in the face of opposition by using the power of. something the French call “engagement of responsibility,” which means that the government declares the bill a matter of confidence and that, without its passing, the government will fall.

By giving the government more power to push through bills, the provision was intended to make the legislative process more efficient and effective. Defenders argue that it is a necessary tool for the government to push through important reforms in a timely manner. In other words, it’s a technocratic end-run around the democratic process. It is an undemocratic tool that undermines the role of the National Assembly and limits public debate and scrutiny of proposed legislation.

Article 49.3 has been used several times in French political history, often when the government faces significant opposition in the National Assembly. You may remember that Article 49.3 was used in the passage of controversial labor reforms in 2016, which led to widespread protests and strikes. Or maybe you don’t remember this because the corporate state media in the United States hardly reported it.

This matters to you, my fellow Americans. Elites will (again) be coming after pensions in the United States. They’ve spent our retirement on globalization and war-making. We are entitled to that money. They are as I write this scheming a way to not have to give it to us.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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