The protests multiplied on Saturday in France against the pension reform imposed by decree by the liberal president Emmanuel Macronin a climate of growing political and social tension.
The authorities prohibited the concentrations in the Place de la Concorde in Paris, located in front of the Parliament, after two nights of demonstrations that led to incidents with hundreds of arrests.
Pending the new day of massive protests called by the unions next Thursday, the sectoral strikes slow down the activity of the second largest economy in the European Union (EU) and tons of garbage are piled up in its main cities.
Macron’s decision to approve the reform by resorting to a constitutional provision that allows him to skip the legislative vote gave new fuel to popular outrage, which had been declining in recent days.
The measure, motivated by the uncertainty about the result of the vote, added a political crisis to the social one that confronts the president with one of his greatest challenges less than a year after beginning his second term, of five years.
Deputies from opposition forces presented two motions of censure, which will be discussed starting Monday. The approval of any of them (something unlikely in principle) would annul the presidential decree and force Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to present her resignation.
The reform that set the country on fire aims to delay the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 and bring forward to 2027 the requirement to contribute 43 years (and not 42 as now) to collect a full pension.
The authorities prohibited the rallies in the Place de la Concorde, separated from the National Assembly (chamber of deputies) by the Seine river, after two nights of clashes between protesters who threw bottles and flares at the security forces, who responded with gas tear.
The ban on demonstrating in this nerve center of Paris, also close to the Elysée presidential palace, was adopted “due to the serious risks of disturbance of public order and security”explained a police statement.
But the turmoil has innumerable foci and shows no sign of abating.
The largest oil refinery in France, located in Normandy (northeast), began to paralyze its facilities on Friday night and others could follow suit starting Monday, union sources said.
Industry Minister Roland Lescure indicated that the government could order personnel requisitions to avoid fuel shortages.
Requisitions of Paris garbage collectors were also ordered to begin clearing some 10,000 tons of waste that accumulates on the streets of the capital due to a strike in the sector.
On Saturday, marches were also called in Paris, Marseille, Brest (west), Toulon and Montellier (southeast), among other major cities.
“Denial of democracy”
The decision to impose the pension reform through article 49.3 of the Constitution, ignoring the parliamentary vote, gave new impetus to the protests and strikes that had been staggering for weeks.
“What will I answer to the young people who tell me that voting is useless? I elected a deputy, who cannot vote. We are in full denial of democracy”says Nathalie, a woman in her 30s, who refused to give her last name, at a protest of about 300 people in Besançon (east).
One of the no-confidence motions against the government was presented by the independent parliamentary group LIOT and another by Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party, defeated by Macron in the second round of the last two presidential elections.
The one presented by LIOT can obtain the maximum support, but it would fall short of about 30 votes out of the 287 necessary (half plus one of the 577 seats) to bring down the government and the reform.
The left-wing Nupes front and Le Pen’s party announced that they would support LIOT’s motion. The missing votes should come from the right-wing opposition party Los Republicanos, which negotiated the pension reform with the ruling party, although with the dissent of some twenty of its legislators.
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.