For the second day in a row, France is the scene of violent protests. The reason? President Emmanuel Macron seeks to raise the retirement age without a vote in the National Assembly.
Just one day after Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne invoked a special constitutional power to circumvent a vote in the chaotic lower house, lawmakers from the right and left filed no-confidence motions that will be put to a vote on Monday, March 19.
In the elegant Plaza de la Concordia in Paris, a festive protest of several thousand people, with singing, dancing and a huge bonfire, degenerated into a scene similar to that of the previous night. The riot police intervened and fired tear gas to empty the huge square in front of the National Assembly, after some rioters climbed onto the scaffolding at some renovation works, arming themselves with wooden sticks. They threw fireworks and cobblestones at police in a confrontation.
On Thursday night, security forces used water cannons to evacuate the area, before small groups lit bonfires in upscale surrounding neighborhoods. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told RTL radio that 310 people had been detained overnight, the majority in Paris.
In cities all over France were held protests scattered, from a march in Bordeaux to a rally in Toulouse. Calais port officials have temporarily suspended ferry crossings across the English Channel to Dover. Access to some Paris university campuses was blocked, and protesters occupied a busy expressway that circles the French capital.
Garbage collectors in Paris have extended their strike for a 12th day, which has resulted in piles of stinking rubbish growing daily. Striking sanitation workers continued to blockade Europe’s largest incineration center and two other centers that process the capital’s garbage.
Some yellow vest activists, who organized formidable protests against Macron’s economic policies during his first term, were among those who broadcast Friday’s protest in Paris on social media. The police say the “radicalized yellow vests” They are among the rioters at the marches.
The unions organizing the opposition have urged the protesters to remain peaceful during more strikes and marches in the coming days. They have urged people to walk out of schools, factories, refineries and other workplaces to force Macron to abandon his plan to make French people work two more years, until they are 64, before receiving a full pension.
Macron took a calculated risk by ordering Borne to invoke a special constitutional power that she had already used 10 times before without unleashing such an outpouring of anger.
If the motion of censure fails, the bill becomes law. If the majority agrees, it would mean the end of the pension reform plan and force the government to resign, although Macron could always reappoint Borne to appoint the new cabinet.
“We are not going to stop”, the representative of the CGT union organization, Régis Vieceli, told The Associated Press on Friday. He said that flooding the streets with discontent and refusing to continue working is “The only way we’re going to push them back.”
Macron has made the proposed pension changes the key priority of his second term, arguing that the reform is necessary to make the French economy more competitive and to prevent the pension system from running into deficit. France, like many other rich countries, is facing lower birth rates and longer life expectancy.
Ricardo is a renowned author and journalist, known for his exceptional writing on top-news stories. He currently works as a writer at the 247 News Agency, where he is known for his ability to deliver breaking news and insightful analysis on the most pressing issues of the day.