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France faces another day of general strike against pension reform

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Around 250 demonstrations were planned; intelligence services expect a total of 1.2 million people on the streets of the country


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France sees another day of demonstrations against pension reform

THE France faces this Tuesday, 31, another day of intense protests against the pension reform of the president Emmanuel Macron, which, after losing the battle of public opinion, hopes to win the support of Parliament. Around 250 demonstrations were planned, which made the government mobilize 11,000 police and gendarmes. Intelligence services expect a total of 1.2 million protesters at most. The day began with a transport strike, mainly on the Paris metro, on suburban trains in the region and on provincial railways, where attendance was very low. Schools were also closed at dawn and there was a drop in electricity production. These protests take place almost two weeks after taking to the streets 1.12 million people, according to the authorities – twice as much, for the unions -, the opponents expect many more protesters in France, where the rejection of the current reform advances in public opinion. “If the Prime Minister [Élisabeth Borne] did not understand the message, today we will say it louder, stronger and with more people”, said the CGT union leader, Philippe Martinez, to BFMTV and RMC media. The two measures that crystallize the rejection of the reform are the progressive postponement until 2030 of the retirement age from 62 to 64 years and the anticipation to 2027 of the requirement to contribute 43 years – and not 42 as now – to receive a full pension.

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Although the government asked the opposition to “enrich” its project during the parliamentary process that started on Monday, Borne said that the age of 64 is “no longer negotiable”, angering the left-wing opposition who called for a “popular motion of censorship”. The new day of protests may increase tension in the National Assembly (lower house), which started the reform review committee the day before and has less than a week to debate the 7,000 amendments presented before reaching the plenary on Monday. With the rejection of the left front of Nupes and the extreme right already announced, the government expects the support of the right-wing party Os Republicanos (LR), favorable to the reform, but divided on its characteristics. Since his arrival in government in 2017, the 45-year-old Macron has defended his desire to “shake up” the system with his liberal reforms, which have sometimes boosted his image as a “president of the rich”, as during the yellow vest social protest.

Pension reform is fundamental to its strategy. After the pandemic forced it to give up in a first attempt, the Government opted for a controversial parliamentary procedure that allows it to apply the current plan if Parliament does not decide by the end of March. Rejection of the reform is currently around 70%, according to surveys. Furthermore, according to a poll by Odoxa, two out of three French people consider Macron a bad president and Borne a bad prime minister. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed support for the French president on Monday, manifesting itself in favor of a reform that, together with the one approved on unemployment insurance, would allow France to reduce its public debt, which exceeds 110% of GDP.

*With information from AFP

Source: Jovempan

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