It's not just the mounds of garbage lining the streets of Paris that are starting to smell. Now there's a stench of desperation from the Elysee Palace as Emmanuel Macron forces his pension reform bill through parliament without a vote - and just as the economy goes bad. It's a hollow victory.
If Macron is resorting to executive fiat to enact a hike in the minimum retirement age to 64 from 62, it's because his government has repeatedly failed to win backing from the public or enough votes from potential allies in parliament, where he lacks an absolute majority. It turns out that in a post-pandemic, post-Ukraine economy, even the logic of demographic decline - it's estimated there will be only 1.2 French workers for every retiree by 2070 - isn't enough to convince the French that their inter-generationally unfair pay-as-you-go system is running out of steam.