Thousands of demonstrators returned to the streets of Paris on Thursday (16/3) to protest the pension reform that Emmanuel Macron’s government wants to implement without passing the vote of the French National Assembly deputies.
Macron’s government, through Prime Minister Elizabeth Born, has activated a special device to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.
Section 49.3 allows the government to force the bill without going through the National Assembly.
The only way to stop this is to pass a motion of no confidence in the government within 24 hours, rejecting the law, forcing the dissolution of Congress and calling early elections.
In an interview with French television, Born said that the French pension system could not be financed with debt and that “some groups want chaos and it is the humble Frenchman who pays for the consequences.”
Critics of the reform call the project “brutal”, “inhuman”, and “degrading”.
In addition to the demonstrations and strikes against the change to social security – the interruption of the garbage collection service in Paris is already close to two weeks – parliamentarians protested with boos and shouts against the maneuver in scenes of rare chaos in the National Assembly.
Some tried to interrupt the first singing MarseilleFrench national anthem.
According to Reuters, Macron told his ministers that the economic risks of keeping the pension unchanged are too great for Article 49.3 to be applied.
The assessment was that the government would not have enough votes among the MPs.
Many demonstrators in La Concorde Square, near the National Assembly, carried the flags of trade union organizations and chanted “ça va péter” (something like “it’s going to get out of control” or “the thing is going to explode” in free translation).
The police fired tear gas and the demonstrators threw stones. The police tried to clear the square, but met resistance.
Protests were recorded in other French cities such as Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon and Rennes.
Critics from the right and the left
Macron’s reform has upset almost the entire political spectrum.
Leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon said the bill had “no legitimacy” and the decision to invoke Article 49.3 was an “utter failure”.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen went in the same direction and said Macron’s strategy of withdrawing from Congress was a sign of “personal failure”. And she asked opposition deputies to vote on a motion of no confidence in Macron.
In addition to raising the retirement age to 64, the law also requires French workers to make additional contributions during their term of service to receive the full benefit, and spells out the end of “special regimes” for rail and gas professionals, for example. Public sector employees will be the most affected.
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