Pension reform in France: More than a million people protest

As of: 03/23/2023 8:51 p.m

Significantly more people than before have protested against the government’s pension reform in France. The Interior Ministry spoke of almost 1.1 million people, the CGT union of 3.5 million. There were riots in some places.

According to the Interior Ministry, almost 1.1 million people took to the streets in France against the pension reform and against the government – significantly more than before. The union CGT reported 3.5 million people.

During what is now the ninth nationwide day of protest, train stations, refineries and ports were blocked, and local and long-distance connections were lost. Part of Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris was also blocked. Many schools remained closed because teachers went on strike.

There were riots in some places. In Paris, the police used water cannons and the mood was also heated in Bordeaux, Nantes and Rennes. According to the newspaper “Ouest-France” in Lorient in Brittany, the yard of a police station was set on fire.

In the run-up, around 800,000 protesters were expected nationwide – the CGT union now reported this number of participants for Paris alone, the Interior Ministry spoke of around 119,000 people for the capital.

The anger has grown

It was the first day of protests since Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, on Macron’s instructions, pushed through the pension reform using Article 49.3 of the Constitution without a vote in parliament. The government barely survived a vote of no confidence that followed.

President Emmanuel Macron was unyielding in an interview on Wednesday. Since then, anger has grown among many people, several union officials said. Macron had also brought the protests close to the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Macron attended the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, but took no questions from journalists.

“He is the one who is setting the country on fire,” Celine Verzeletti of the CGT union told France Inter radio. The head of the more moderate CFDT union, Laurent Berger, said Macron had to suspend the reform. “That means withdrawing them or suspending their implementation, it can mean anything.”

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