London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Pressure mounts on Macron after unrest grows over pensions

Pressure mounts on Macron after unrest grows over pensions

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday faced the gravest challenge to his authority since the so-called Yellow Vest protests after his decision to push through a contested pension overhaul without a vote prompted a wave of protests.
A new demonstration got underway in Paris on Friday evening, as protesters gathered in the city’s Place de la Concorde, near the Assemblee Nationale parliament building, following demonstrations on Thursday which were marred by violence.

Demonstrators started off a fire burning in Place de la Concorde on Friday as they faced up to a line of riot police, with some chanting “Macron, Resign!“

“Something fundamental happened, and that is that, immediately, spontaneous mobilizations took place throughout the country,” hard-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said. “It goes without saying that I encourage them, I think that’s where it’s happening.”

The pension overhaul raises France’s retirement age by two years to 64, which the government says is essential to ensure the system does not go bust.
Unions, and most voters, disagree.

The French are deeply attached to keeping the official retirement age at 62, which is among the lowest in OECD countries.

More than eight out of 10 people are unhappy with the government’s decision to skip a vote in parliament, and 65 percent want strikes and protests to continue, a Toluna Harris Interactive poll for RTL radio showed.

Going ahead without a vote “is a denial of democracy...a total denial of what has been happening in the streets for several weeks,” 52-year-old psychologist Nathalie Alquier said in Paris. “It’s just unbearable.”

A broad alliance of France’s main unions said they would continue their mobilization to try and force a U-turn on the changes. Protests are planned for this week, with a new day of nationwide industrial action is scheduled for Thursday.

Teachers’ unions called for strikes next week, which could disrupt the emblematic Baccalaureate high-school exams.

While eight days of nationwide protests since mid-January, and many more local industrial actions, had so far been largely peaceful, the unrest on Thursday was reminiscent of the Yellow Vest protests that erupted in late 2018 over high fuel prices and forced Macron into a partial U-turn on a carbon tax.

’MAYHEM’

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said some 310 people had been arrested by police and promised to crack down on troublemakers.

“Opposition is legitimate, protests are legitimate but causing mayhem is not,” he told RTL radio.

Left-wing and centrist opposition lawmakers filed a motion of no-confidence in parliament on Friday afternoon.

But, even though Macron lost his absolute majority in the lower house of parliament in elections last year, there was little chance this would go through — unless a surprise alliance of MPs from all sides is formed, from the far-left to the far-right.

The leaders of the conservative Les Republicains party have ruled out such an alliance. None of them had sponsored the first motion of no confidence filed on Friday. The far-right was expected to file another later in the day.

Individual LR lawmakers have said they could break ranks, but the no confidence bill would require all of the other opposition MPs and half of LR’s 61 lawmakers to go through, which is a tall order.

“So far, French governments have usually won in such votes of no confidence,” said Berenberg chief economist Holger Schmieding.

He expected it would be the same again this time even if “by trying to by-pass parliament, Macron has already weakened his position.”

Votes in parliament were likely to take place over the weekend or on Monday.

Macron will want to turn the page quickly, with government officials already preparing more socially minded reforms. He can also choose, at some point, to fire Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who has been at the forefront of the pension debate.

But either or both moves may do little to quell anger on the streets. Neither of them had made public comments on Friday.
Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
0:00
0:00
Close
Nicki Minaj's Manchester Concert Canceled After Amsterdam Arrest
UK Conservative Party Proposes Mandatory National Service at 18
Kate Middleton's Public Absence Throughout 2024
Asylum Seekers Arriving In UK by Sea Exceed 10,000 This Year
UK Criticizes ICJ Order on Israel's Rafah Assault
Ukraine's Fight Against Corruption Gains Ground Amid War
Czech President Petr Pavel Injured in Motorcycle Accident
Record Number of Abortions in England and Wales
Paul McCartney Honours Bruce Springsteen at Ivor Novello Awards
US and UK to Reject ICJ Ruling on Israel's Rafah Offensive
World Court Orders Immediate Halt to Israeli Offensive in Gaza
Understanding FLiRT COVID Variants and Their Impact
Baltic NATO Members to Construct 'Drone Wall'
Global Life Expectancy Dropped By 2 Years Due To COVID-19
Macron Halts New Caledonia Voting Reform After Riots
Rishi Sunak Shelves Rwanda and Smoking Policies Ahead of Election
US Refuses World Court Jurisdiction
China Conducts Surprise Military Drills Around Taiwan
Grim Polls Predict Major Loss for PM Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak's Campaign for UK Election: Key Issues Highlighted
German Property Crisis Worsens as Foreign Investment Declines
Princess of Wales's Taskforce Calls for Business Investment in Early Childhood
Campaign Groups Condemn UK Report on Protests
Former Royal Marine Charged with Espionage Found Dead
Australian PM Calls for Julian Assange's Freedom
ICC Seeks Arrest Warrants for Israeli and Hamas Leaders
UK's Infected Blood Scandal: Conclusion Nears After Seven Years
Julian Assange Granted Right to Challenge US Extradition
Congo Army Thwarts Attempted Coup Involving Americans and a British Citizen
Ireland's Homeless Gain Voting Rights
Blinken orders crackdown on Israel-Hamas leaks
Julian Assange Faces US Extradition: Key Facts
Jacob Zuma Takes Campaign to ANC Stronghold Soweto
Attempted Assassination of Slovakia PM Robert Fico: Investigation Ongoing
What Happens If an Iranian President Dies in Office?
Spain Recalls Ambassador After Argentina President's Remarks
Rishi Sunak Faces Cabinet Backlash Over Proposed Changes to Foreign Student Visas
Rwanda Denies Entry to Human Rights Researcher
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Reportedly Killed in Helicopter Crash
Blue Origin Resumes Space Tourism with 90-Year-Old Ed Dwight
Rishi Sunak and Wife Akshata Murty Wealthier Than King Charles
New Dutch Government Drives Wedge Through EU Liberals
Iranian President Raisi Missing After Helicopter Goes Down
Freemasons and ‘Global War Party’ Accused of Conspiring Against Georgia
Poland Supports Rolls-Royce's Nuclear Power Plant Initiative
European Ports Overflow with Unsold Electric Vehicles
Esprit Files for Bankruptcy in Europe, Putting Hundreds of Jobs at Risk
Chevron Halts North Sea Drilling Amid Rising Tax Burden
Jeremy Hunt Accused of Exaggerating Conservatives' Economic Record
Victoria Atkins Discusses Historical Gender Bias in the NHS
×