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Exploitable emergency powers: France’s cautionary tale for America

Published in Blog on March 21, 2023 by Brianna Kraemer

The citizens of France are rising up against the executive branch after the president used emergency powers to alter the retirement age without going through the legislative process. 

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron used an emergency constitutional measure to ram through pension reforms without a vote. Largely unpopular, the reform will alter the retirement age from 62 to 64 in order to save France’s pension system, proponents argue.

The French National Assembly would have likely failed to pass the measure if given the chance.

Tens of thousands swarmed major cities in protest over the weekend, along with calls for the removal of the president. In response to the angry backlash in the streets, Macron banned protests in Paris near the National Assembly building. However, that did not stop citizens from showing up to demonstrate their disapproval.

Macron also faced a no-confidence vote on Monday, which would have forced the prime minister of France to resign, generating chaos in the government. It fell nine votes short of passing on Monday, with 278 of the required 287 members of parliament voting in favor of the motion. 

While the people and their representatives in parliament were not in support of pension changes, this was all made possible through Article 49.3 of the French constitution, which allows the executive branch to bypass a vote. 

SEE ALSO: Guns and COVID: Australia’s Cautionary Tale for all Freedom-Loving Americans

The ability to abuse executive power is on full display in France, but it serves as a grave reminder for Americans as well.

Since 2020, emergency powers in the executive branch have allowed for unconstitutional mandates on millions. Since Biden took the presidency in 2021, he has signed 107 executive orders into law, bypassing the legislative branch. Former President Trump signed 220 executive orders and former President Obama signed 277 while in office. 

Biden's student loan forgiveness executive order, for example, skirted around Congress and was ultimately blocked by the courts. But many of these orders are implemented against the people’s wishes and for the benefit of the administration. 

Whether it’s France, the U.S., or any other country, executive orders lead to a slippery slope. The Convention of States movement is about pushing back against the power abuse of the federal government so tyranny cannot find its way into our free nation. 

We need term limits, budget requirements, and restraints to the federal government’s authority so future “emergencies” aren’t exploited by the executive branch. 

Sign the COS petition below. 

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