France is embroiled in social and political conflict over the pension reforms promoted by the government of Emmanuel Macron, which has already ordered their adoption by decree, although this has not stopped the opposition from reacting.
With the Paris ring road closed for half an hour, secondary schools blocked, 10,000 tons of rubbish piled up in the capital or the invasion of the railways in Bordeaux (south-west) and Toulon (southeast), the discontent of the French took many forms.
French president approves pension reform without a vote of deputies
We are sorry for this announcement. [del gobierno] as an insult. They haven’t heard from us in weeks. This caused a lot of anger,” he told the AFP Philippe Melaine, a secondary school teacher in Rennes (west), where more than 2,000 people demonstrated on Friday.
Riots have been seen through videos in the French capital with barricades being set on fire.
🔴 DIRECTLY – Les poubelles dans les rue de #Paris does not burn in the coin of the rue.
Les ordures n’ont pas été ramassés depuis plusieurs jours à cause de la grève. pic.twitter.com/fRSBnR26nL
— Clement Lanot (@ClementLanot) March 16, 2023
Macron decided to apply the reform without the vote of the deputies, given the possibility that it will not be approved in parliament. In history, Article 49.3 of the Constitution has been applied only 100 times.
The reform aims to postpone the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 and bring forward until 2027 the obligation to contribute to 43 years (and not 42 as now) to acquire a full pension. Two out of three French people are against it, according to polls.
The opposition has already begun to reverse the decision by introducing two no-confidence motions, one from the independent group LIOT and the other from the far right, which, if passed, would threaten the government of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and in turn reform .
The proposal presented by LIOT can receive the maximum support, but for now it remains with about 30 votes out of the 287 needed to overthrow the government and the reform.
“The president could save the furniture by announcing that the law will be repealed after this undemocratic approval. But it is not for him to listen to the French,” reads the editorial of the left-wing daily Libération.
On Thursday night, police responded with denunciations, tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters gathered in the Plaza de la Concordia, near the National Assembly. Incidents were also reported in Rennes, Nantes and Lyon. There were 310 detainees.
In anticipation of the new day of mass protests called for by the unions on Thursday, leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon called for “spontaneous mobilizations”. The interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, warned that he will not allow them either or “give disorder”.
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