Protests over pension reform in France are violent again

March 18 – Protesters have again clashed with police in central Paris over the French government’s pension reforms.

Thousands of protesters lit fires and some threw firecrackers at the police, who used tear gas to disperse them.

It is the second night of unrest since President Emmanuel Macron decided to push through controversial reforms to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a vote.

In response, motions of no confidence have been filed against his government.

The first was signed by independents and members of the left-wing Nupes coalition in parliament, while the second came from the far-right Agrupación Nacional party.

Both are expected to be debated early next week.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally deputies in parliament, described the decision to push through the pension changes as “a total failure for the government.”

Police made dozens of arrests during the riots in the Place de la Concorde, not far from the parliament building.

Protests also took place in other French cities on Friday, notably in Bordeaux, Toulon and Strasbourg.

“We will not give up,” a protester told the AFP news agency. “There is still hope that the reform can be repealed.”

Another told Reuters that pushing the legislation without a vote was “a denial of democracy… a complete denial of what has been happening in the streets for several weeks.”

The government has said that pension changes are essential to ensure the system is not overloaded and prevents it from collapsing.

But many people, including union members, disagree and France has witnessed more than two months of heated political debates and strikes over the issue.

Transport, public services and schools have been affected, while an ongoing strike by waste collectors has left thousands of tons of rubbish on the streets of the capital.

Fuel deliveries have also been blocked and there are plans to stop production at a large refinery in Normandy in the coming days.

“Changing the government or the prime minister will not put out this fire, only withdraw the reform,” said the leader of the moderate CFDT union, Laurent Berger.

Some Pictures from the Protest:

(BBC)

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