Demonstration against pension reform: Another weekend of protests in France

Status: 03/18/2023 3:43 p.m

The wave of protests in France does not stop: This weekend, demonstrations against Macron’s pension reform are planned all over the country. The government faces a vote of no confidence on Monday.

Protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms have continued. Rallies were televised in cities such as Compiegne in the north, Nantes in the west and Saint-Etienne in central France. Demonstrations were also planned in Paris, the port city of Marseille, in Brest, Toulon and Montpellier.

Several unions had called for demonstrations over the weekend – also out of anger at the actions of Macron’s government, which wants to push through the reform without a vote in the National Assembly. The union CGT announced the shutdown of at least two refineries.

Police used tear gas

On Friday evening, for the second night in a row, thousands of people gathered on the Place de la Concorde in Paris, just a few hundred meters from the National Assembly and the President’s Elysée Palace. The atmosphere was increasingly heated after being mostly peaceful during the day.

Several hundred mostly younger demonstrators threw bottles and firecrackers at police officers. The police used tear gas to clear the square. According to the police headquarters, 61 people were arrested. The prefecture then banned all demonstrations on and around the Place de la Concorde and on the Boulevard Champs Elysées in central Paris.

As a result of the protests, mountains of rubbish are also piling up in the capital. There was also a strike in refineries on Saturday. Around 37 percent of employees in TotalEnergies refineries and depots stopped work. The strikes also continued on the railways.

Two thirds of the French reject the reform

The rally participants reject the increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64 years. A broad alliance of the most important French unions wants to mobilize to force a U-turn in the pension changes.

The government on Thursday invoked a constitutional article that would allow the pension reform to pass without a vote in the National Assembly if the government survives subsequent no-confidence motions. Since then, the opposition has submitted two motions of no confidence, which the National Assembly will discuss on Monday, according to information from parliamentary circles.

If an absolute majority of MPs vote in favour, the pension reform will be defeated and the government will have to resign. Then Macron could appoint a new prime minister or call new elections. A majority for the no-confidence motion is considered unlikely as conservative Republicans are expected to support the government.

If there is no absolute majority for a motion of no confidence, the pension reform will finally be passed. According to polls, around two-thirds of French people reject the reform.

Again protests against the planned pension reform in France

Tagesschau 09:55 a.m., 18.3.2023

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