Between anger and resignation, does the context really support large-scale mobilization?

NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP Since January 17, demonstrations against pension reform have taken place at the local level, such as in Marseille. Will it be successful for the national mobilization this Thursday?


Since January 17, demonstrations against pension reform have taken place at the local level, such as in Marseille. Will it be successful for the national mobilization this Thursday?

PENSION REFORM – “If the government calculates that people will be paralyzed, that’s a bad calculation.” Olivier Besancenot is very sure that the mobilization against the pension reform on Thursday 19 January will be massive. “The context is there” for a former NPA presidential candidate to confide in HuffPost on January 11th and which is on the same line as every leftist elected official we can ask. But does reality have a chance of living up to their expectations?

A few days before the meeting, confidence seems to take over the plants. “It has been a long time since we mobilized like that”reported the secretary general of the FO, Frédéric Souillot at RFI on January 17, along with his colleagues. “We can all imagine that the 19th day will be devastating”insists Danielle Tartakowsky, historian and expert on social movements. “I was getting on the bus and the women were talking about the route in the Nation, when we started hearing it on the street…”he added in half-joke form, expressing his opinion.

If the union’s hopes come true, one million people will march in the streets this Thursday. Near here HuffPostLFI representative Éric Coquerel wants to be a little more careful and rely on “several hundred thousand people” all over France. Not 2 million from Juppé’s plan in 95? “It’s not impossible, even if we can’t confirm anything”, he breathes, without hiding the uncertainty that many people have.

Hence the difficulty. All opinion studies conducted on pension reform show massive opposition among French to raising the legal age – by 65% ​​according to a YouGov poll conducted for HuffPost one week before the text presentation. However, at the same time, feelings fatigue » dominates the population (52% according to Elabe’s poll for BFMTV)… Right in front of the look-alike « anger (42%). In between, or a contradictory situation », according to his words to HuffPost by sociologist Karel Yon… Maybe influenced the number of demonstrators?

One ” a potentially explosive cocktail”

This is a 1000 euro question. A fine connoisseur of social struggle, Jean-Luc Mélenchon admits it himself: resignation sometimes takes precedence over anger. “The government will do everything it can to tell people to calm down, to do nothing”predicts the French leader who revolted on January 12 in France 2, promised, for the return of his media, to carry out “ all we can to motivate and move. »

Under these conditions, perhaps it is not small to see the trust the Head of State has in the press two days before the social gathering. According to some media outlets, such as France Inter, Emmanuel Macron doesn’t really believe in the big move hypothesis or in ” victory of irresponsibility”, according to the words attributed to it. Others, at the top of the State, may be more realistic… Like this minister who tells us he doesn’t see “not giving up or being apathetic”, among the French, but rather loss of collective sense “.

“The ingredients are there. But no movement emerges from the simple addition of ingredients. Except 95…”
Danielle Tartakowsky, historian, social movement specialist

In fact, according to social movement specialists, breeding grounds may be favorable for social eruptions. Historian Danielle Tartakowsky tells us about “ factors that make the terrain slightly warmer “, when his colleague, sociologist Karel Yon, did not hesitate to come up with a recipe for ” a potentially explosive cocktail. »

We just went through a cycle of mobilization around inflation and wage increases… Some of it worked “, underlined the researchers at the CNRS, especially regarding the strike at the refinery. To him, the kind of movement he had compared to the “yellow vest,” shows that certain forms of struggle can produce results. Moreover, since this time, the unions are moving forward unitedly. “ Union union is an important aspect, it changes the situation in the minds of employees… “, wanted to believe Karel Yon. “ The CFDT is clearly in motion, which was not the case in the last general mobilization, or in the movements organized against retirement. “, abounds Danielle Tartakowsky.

Time problem

However, there is still much that is unknown. ” The ingredients are there for mass mobilization, but no movement ever arises thanks to the simple addition of ingredients. Except 1995 “, the historian nuances, referring to the challenge to Juppé’s reforms – which were retired among other reforms – which are widely cited as examples today. At that time, France at that time was experiencing ” the whole series of moves, the gradually rising anger of the fall”recalled the specialist, before the form of aggregation.

Behind these historical references, it is actually the issue of long-term installation that arises. Because if the various mobilizers do bet on a good crowd on Thursday, uncertainty seems to be in store for the future. However, recalls Karel Yon, instead ” decisive question. »

Problem: the trend is somewhat unfavorable for power generation. “Participation in days of conflict, strikes, statistics, all of this is declining” list of sociologists, specialists in social movements, evoking a “Structural weakening of unions over decades. »

Except that the pension is a separate file. Explodes frequently. Especially when added, as is currently the case, to already serious concerns about inflation and purchasing power. In this context, Éric Coquerel prefers to rely on history. “There was the famous ‘La France s’borée’ in an editorial in Le Monde a few months before 68 May. I also remember November-December 1995, when the mood was somewhat the same as today”, recalled the chairman of the Finance Committee in the Assembly. And to conclude, greedy: “We say that the people have given up, are reluctant to move. In conclusion, it was one of the biggest mobilizations and wins… I think we are in this scenario. »

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