PARIS – France prohibited protests outside parliament on Saturday, following a second night of turmoil caused by President Emmanuel Macron pushing an unpopular pension change without a vote in parliament.
Peaceful marches began in other areas of the nation, however, after Macron’s administration used a contentious executive authority to drive through the measure by decree on Thursday.
The action has prompted fury among the political elite as well as fierce protests in the public, presenting the 45-year-old leader with one of his toughest difficulties less than a year into his second and last mandate.
According to legislative sources, the opposition legislators have submitted two resolutions of no confidence in the administration, which will be considered in parliament on Monday afternoon.
They seek to get enough support to overthrow the cabinet and abolish the statute raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.After skirmishes between some protestors and security forces the previous two nights in the capital’s Place de la Concorde, across the Seine river from parliament, authorities barred crowds on Saturday.
It stated it was doing so “due to substantial threats of disruptions to public order”. But, as regional unions called for a weekend of protests, thousands marched in towns and cities around the country. Ariane Laget, 36, was among 200 protesters in the small southern town of Lodeve.
“We’re fed up. We feel like we’re being trampled on and no one is listening,” she said.
Huge throngs also came to the streets of Nantes, a western city. “Death to the king,” one poster said, clearly referring to the president. On Thursday, unions have called for another day of countrywide strikes and protests.
Hundreds of people protested in Place de la Concorde on Friday to express their anger at the government’s imposition of the reform, despite two months of strikes and protests.
Others hurled bottles and pyrotechnics at security personnel, who responded by shooting tear gas in an attempt to evacuate the square. According to police, they made 61 arrests.
Demonstrators attempted to break into and set fire to a town hall in Lyon’s southeastern district, according to police, who recorded 36 arrests.
According to studies, almost two-thirds of French people reject the change, which would also force people to work longer in order to get a full pension.
The administration has stated that it is important to keep the system from becoming insolvent and to put France in line with its European neighbors, where the legal retirement age is normally higher.
But, opponents argue that the adjustments are unjust to those who begin working at an early age in physically demanding occupations, as well as women who take time away from their employment to have children.
Protests have drawn some of the biggest crowds in decades since mid-January, but the popular movement appeared to be fading in the days before the government implemented the measure.
Municipal garbage collectors in the capital, on the other hand, have maintained a rolling strike, leaving an estimated 10,000 tons of waste in the streets by Friday.
A union spokesperson nevertheless on Saturday indicated that workers at three incinerators near Paris will let some rubbish trucks through “to avoid the risk of an outbreak”. Police said vehicles from five different depots have returned to work.
The CGT union in the energy industry has stated that strikes would halt output at two refineries by this weekend or Monday at the latest. On Friday, SNCF unions urged workers to maintain a continuous strike that has caused significant disruption on the network. Last year, Macron made pension reform the centerpiece of his re-election campaign.
But, following the National Assembly elections in June, the former banker lost his legislative majority. On Thursday, the administration invoked the contentious article 49.3 of the constitution, fearing that it would not have enough support in the lower house to force a vote on the pensions measure.
Nonetheless, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s administration is anticipated to survive any motion of no confidence. The move would require support from around half of the opposition’s right-wing Republicans, a situation considered exceedingly unlikely.