PARIS— The French Senate, pushed into an early vote, approved on Friday a hotly contested bill raising the retirement age to 62, hours after riot police forced the reopening of a strategic refinery to help halt growing fuel shortages amid nationwide strikes and protests.
In tense balloting after 140 hours of debate, the Senate voted 177-153 for the pension reform. The measure is expected to win final formal approval by both houses of parliament next week.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative government, keen to get the measure passed and quell increasingly radicalized protests, cut short the debate and voting process using a special procedure. Critics on the left dubbed the use of Article 44-3 of the Constitution a denial of democracy.