Fierce and violent riots also took place tonight (between Saturday and Sunday) in Paris and other cities throughout France – in protest of President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform. At least 81 people were arrested tonight after protesting and rioting in the streets of the French capital, although the authorities banned demonstrations tonight, after two previous violent nights.Widespread protests in France have been raging every night since Thursday, following Macron’s controversial decision to enact the reform without a parliamentary vote. This is a serious escalation in the conflicts in France – in relation to the protests about the reform that started already many weeks ago.
Macron won the support of the Senate, the upper house of the French parliament, in the unpopular legislation that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. On the other hand, the president realized that he did not have a majority for this even in the National Assembly, the lower house in the parliament, and decided to activate a constitutional clause that led to the worsening of the criticism against him. According to that section, also known as 49.3, the French president can advance the legislation without bringing it to a vote – and on the other hand his government will face a vote of no confidence in the parliament. This is a familiar and well-known clause, which previous presidents have already used many times.
Since Thursday, when the decision was made to activate section 49.3, there has been a serious escalation in the clashes between the demonstrators and the members of the security forces in many cities, including Compeign, Marseille, Nantes, Bordeaux and more. In Paris, the protest also took place in the most popular and touristic places, such as Place de la Concorde and Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
“Macron, resign”, shout the protestors, many of whom are actually young people who are not close to retirement age in the coming years, in a protest that appears to be the most serious and violent since the “yellow vest” protest four years ago. “Macron is going to fall, we are going to win. We beheaded Louis XVI, we will do the same to Macron,” protesters in Paris were quoted as saying.Violent riots in France in protest of the pension reform | Photo: Reuters
The pension reform is one of the most important steps from President Macron’s point of view, in a way that may shape and influence his long-term legacy, and his government has made it clear that they will not agree to compromises on the matter. Political commentators in France warn that the fact that such a controversial decision for him caused such an uproar at a fairly early stage of his second term, may affect the continuation and harm his and his government’s popularity, which to begin with is not very high.
Macron’s government is expected to successfully pass the vote of no confidence in it, but it is estimated that from now on any legislation will encounter much greater difficulties. Following the dramatic decision to waive legislation in parliament – the labor unions are preparing to intensify the protest.
“Macron’s government managed to alienate and reject the support of many citizens for a long time,” he told the news agency. AP Bryce Tintoria, political science researcher, political commentator and deputy director of the Ipsos polling institute. “The only winners from this story are far-right leader Marine Le Pen and her party, who continue the strategy of gaining public respect and support, and continue to oppose Macron.”
The French president himself has been silent on the matter since Thursday, despite the expectation of many to hear his words and receive an explanation for his decision. At this point, the end of the protests is not in sight, the trash cans in Paris and other cities continue to fill up following a strike against the garbage, and speculation is growing regarding the future of Macron and his government.
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