Protesters and police clash for the sixth day of demonstration against pension reform

French President Emmanuel Macron intends to use a TV interview on Wednesday to ‘calm things down’ and plan changes for the remainder of his term

Frederick Florin / AFPFrance registers sixth day of demonstration after approval of pension reform

For the sixth day in a row, demonstrators took to the streets of France to demonstrate against the Pension Reform approved, definitively, on Tuesday, 21, after the two motions against the president Emmanuel Macron be rejected. The plan postpones from 62 to 64 until 2030 and anticipates to 2027 the requirement to contribute for 43 years (and not 42 as now) to be entitled to a full pension. Police fired tear gas at a protest when some demonstrators set rubbish bins on fire and set fire to a motorcycle and hurled fireworks at police in Place de la Republique square. Protesters have been playing cat and mouse with police in cities across France since last week, setting fire to dumpsters and barricades as police responded with tear gas and attacked protesters. The decision by Macron and Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne to impose their plan without submitting it to the National Assembly (Lower Chamber), where they feared losing – they relied on article 49:3 of the Constitution and discarded the vote of the deputies -, triggered a wave of spontaneous, sometimes violent, protests since last Thursday. The French president intends to use a TV interview on Wednesday to “calm things down” and plan reforms for the remainder of his term, said a source who has attended meetings between Macron and key allies. The French leader is trying to regain the initiative with further reforms in the coming weeks after his government narrowly survived a no-confidence motion on Monday over an unpopular pension bill, the source said. Some in Macron’s own camp have warned him against getting on with business, as usual amid violent protests and ongoing strikes that pose the most serious challenge to the centrist president’s authority since the “yellow vests” revolt four years ago. In a meeting with his allies, Macron has already anticipated that he will not reform his government, will not dissolve Parliament, nor will he submit his reform to a referendum, according to one of the participants.

Groups of young people run around Paris setting garbage containers on fire with a clear tactic: to be fast and unpredictable. On Monday night, the 20th, the majority of demonstrators did not seek confrontations with the police, but filled the streets with obstacles, whether bicycles, garbage or burning pallets of garbage, to hinder the motorized advance of the security forces. . “We’re ‘be water’ like in Hong Kong… Well, or at least we try”, explains Romain (pseudonym) on a pedestrian street in the central district of Les Halles, with the police behind him. “We must renew our actions to maintain the pressure”, says the student. The phrase “be water” is a reference to Hong Kong movie hero Bruce Lee, which protesters embraced in 2019 during the wave of protests in the former British colony against a draft law. extradition to China, which has been suspended. Protesters claim to be inspired by this movement to carry out their actions, after weeks of massive and peaceful protests called by unions did not cause Liberal President Emmanuel Macron to withdraw his controversial reform.

In addition to the law to increase one of the lowest retirement ages in the EU, Macron, re-elected in April last year in the second round with the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, faces many difficulties in applying his reformist program during his second term, which will until 2027. Observers consider it weakened. Ratings agency Mody’s said on Monday that by imposing its bill by decree, it would “make it more difficult for future reforms to be adopted.” The press assessed that the government’s victory in the censure motion by nine votes “tastes like defeat”, and the left-wing newspaper Libération went so far as to guarantee that it had plunged into a “political crisis”. While waiting for the Constitutional Council to announce the decisions on the appeals presented by the opposition against the reform, which postpones its enactment, and the request for a referendum, Macron defends that the government focuses on the future and on reflecting on how to change its criticized form. to govern without an absolute majority.

*With information from international agencies

Source: Jovempan

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