News ID: 113543
Publish Date : 18 March 2023 - 22:00
Anger Spreads After Macron Bypasses Parliament

Protesters Chant ‘Revolution’ in France

PARIS (Dispatches) -- France on Saturday braced for a weekend of protests after a second night of unrest sparked by President Emmanuel Macron imposing an unpopular pension overhaul without a parliament vote.
Police in Paris banned gatherings on the central Place de la Concorde as thousands of demonstrators continue to protest across France.
Protests were under way or planned on Saturday in cities including Bordeaux, Nantes, Marseille, Brest and elsewhere in Paris after unions called for a determined show of resistance ahead of a ninth day of nationwide industrial action planned for Thursday.
Macron’s government on Thursday invoked a controversial executive power to force through the bill by decree, something that is legal under France’s constitution.
The move has caused outrage among the political class as well as angry protests in the street, presenting the president with one of his biggest challenges less than a year into his second and final mandate.
Opposition lawmakers have filed two motions of no confidence in the government to be debated in parliament on Monday afternoon, according to parliamentary sources.
They hope to garner enough support to topple the cabinet and repeal the law to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.
Unions have called for protests over the weekend ahead of another day of coordinated nationwide strikes and rallies against the bill on Thursday.
In the central French city of Dijon, protesters burned effigies of Macron.
Thousands of people rallied in Paris opposite parliament on Friday to vent their frustration at the government imposing the reform, despite two months of strikes and demonstrations against the change.
Fires were also lit and crowds chanting ‘Revolution!’ swarmed on to Place de la Concorde - the largest square in the French capital and the focal point of the protest movement.
Groups of people threw bottles and fireworks at the security forces, who responded by firing tear gas to try to clear the square. Police said they made 61 arrests.
In the southeastern city of Lyon, demonstrators tried to break into a town hall and set fire to the building, said police, who reported 36 arrests.
Opinion polls have shown around two-thirds of French people oppose the reform, which is also to require people to work longer for a full pension.
Critics say the changes are unfair for people who start working at a young age in physically tough jobs, and women who interrupt their careers to raise children.
Protests since mid-January have

garnered some of the largest crowds in decades.
The capital’s municipal rubbish collectors have kept up a rolling strike, leaving an estimated 10,000 tonnes of trash festering in the streets, putting off tourists and worrying restaurant owners.
Unions from national train operator SNCF urged workers to continue another continuous strike that has caused major disruption on the network.
In the energy sector, the CGT union has said strikers would halt production at two refineries by this weekend or Monday at the latest.
Macron’s move to force through his deeply unpopular pension reform, without a vote in parliament, could rekindle social unrest reminiscent of the Yellow Vest movement, union leaders and analysts have warned.
The grassroots movement started in 2018 as a protest against rising fuel prices and snowballed into the biggest social action against Macron in his first term.
“It’s a social law of physics,” said Jean-Marie Pernot, a political scientist specializing in trade unions.
“If you don’t respect any of the channels meant for the expression of dissent, it will find a way to express itself directly,” he told AFP.
Early Yellow Vest action was marked by strikes, weekly demonstrations, the blocking of roads and fuel depots, and the worst clashes with riot police in decades.
It was only with the imposition of restrictions on movement brought about by the Covid crisis that the movement’s actions were brought to a halt.
The Yellow Vests prided themselves on having no designated leaders. They resisted attempts by left-wing politicians and unions to harness the movement’s energy for their own ends.
One of their more prominent spokesmen was Jerome Rodrigues, who lost an eye to a police rubber bullet during clashes at one demo.
Within hours of Macron’s pensions move on Thursday, Rodrigues told an angry, cheering crowd outside the National Assembly that the objective was now nothing less than “the defeat” of the president.