Tens of thousands of protesters expressed their anger against French President Emmanuel Macron and his government’s decision to use the controversial article 49.3 to approve the controversial pension reform. During the night there were clashes with the police, who came to launch tear gas.
Paris, Nantes, Marseille and Besançon are some cities where the French came out again to express their disagreement with the now approved pension reform. In the French capital there are already nine consecutive days of intense demonstrations.
“The streets are ours,” was another battle cry from citizens who angrily marched from the Plaza d’Italia toward the capital’s largest garbage incineration plant, after the government banned congregations on the Champs-Elysees. and in the Plaza de la Concordia.
The police stole the limelight in these days, since tear gas and riot shields were used to disperse the protesters, who little by little have been raising the intensity of their demands.
There are already 81 arrests for the demonstrations on Saturday, and in total, the Parisian security forces report 142 detainees since Friday.
The massive accumulation of garbage in the streets has also been a phenomenon typical of the Parisian demonstrations, since the strike of the sanitation workers is still active.
The controversial decision to make use of Article 49.3
The protests intensified after last Thursday, when the Prime Minister of the French Government, Elisabeth Borne, made the decision to use article 49.3 to approve the controversial reform without a parliamentary vote. The opposition bloc – made up of parties from across the French political spectrum – filed a joint motion of no confidence against the Borne government.
The 49.3, as it is popularly known, allows the executive to pass laws over the legislative, without requiring the approval of the parliamentary vote. The Government of Borne had already used it seven times, but it is the first time that it has used it to approve a law not related to budgetary matters.
“The government used force to pass its bill. But we have to fight for our social achievements, and the only way to do it is to take to the streets,” said Melodie Tunc, 22, in the midst of the demonstrations.
The blockade of the pension reform
The Executive of Emmanuel Macron made the decision to make use of article 49.3 given the uncertainty that the reform would be approved by the French Legislative Power on Thursday, the date on which the debate on the reform in the French hemicycle was scheduled.
The reform, which raises the retirement age from 62 to 64, was strongly questioned by a large part of the French Parliament. From left-wing parties defined as La Francia Insumisa (LFI), to the extreme right led by Marine Le Pen’s party, Agrupación Nacional, constantly expressed themselves against the reform.
The feeling inside the National Assembly was replicated in the streets and since the presentation of the project on January 10, the French streets experienced thousands of citizens who marched to express their desire to stop the approval of the law.
“The reform must be applied… Violence cannot be tolerated,” said Bruno Le Maire, French Finance Minister, when questioned by local media about popular concern.
Although Emmanuel Macron has not yet publicly reacted to the intense mobilizations, in recent days he expressed that the reform was necessary to avoid the collapse of the system.
The demonstrations against the pension reform have been the biggest popular challenge for the Executive of Emmanuel Macron since the crisis of the “yellow vests” four years ago. The approval of the reform, instead of ending the tensions, seems to have fueled them to the extreme.
With Reuters and AP
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