Cry in unison in France for pension reform: “The country must be blocked” | news today
Place de la Concorde in Paris occupied by anti-pension reform protesters.
Photo: EFE – YOAN VALAT
As soon as the unpopular pension reform of the Government of Emmanuel Macron was approved by decree and without a vote in the National Assembly, thousands of people spontaneously mobilized in the symbolic Parisian Place de la Concorde under the slogan of “blocking the country” with the goal to overthrow the current Executive.
Two marches, a union one that started from the vicinity of the Assembly and a student one from the iconic Sorbonne University, spontaneously converged on La Concorde, famous for housing an imposing obelisk brought from the Egyptian temple of Luxor.
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“Using 49.3 we stop being a democracy, they have imposed a reform on us, a reform that neither the people nor the Assembly want. We are in a very disturbing situation,” denounces Lilian, a 43-year-old administrative assistant, directly affected by the increase in the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64, to EFE, while walking along the banks of the Seine in the direction of Concordia .
Like the rest of the protesters, he focuses his indignation on the application of article 49.3, a legal spring contemplated in the French Constitution – and used on numerous occasions by different governments – that allows a bill to be passed without a vote in the Assembly.
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For Lilian, Macron’s plan “is useless” because the deficit in the pension system “is not as large as the Government says and can also be corrected in another way” without the need to increase the minimum retirement age.
Between chants rescued from the time of the “yellow vests”, the popular revolt that began at the end of 2018 that put Macron in check, unionists and students are determined to continue with the pressure in the streets for as long as it takes.
Among the protesters were retirees like Éric, 63, who protested in Paris “in solidarity” with future generations.
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“I think this is the time to lock down the country, something we should have done earlier. The unions have called one day of protest after another. Now it has been shown that this no longer works,” this former preschool teacher told EFE.
Éric was alluding to the eight days of mobilization held so far this year, which included street protests and sectoral strikes, some of them of an indefinite nature, such as the garbage strikes in Paris. However, the country was never paralyzed.
If the hardening of the strikes is yet to be seen, the opposition to Macron in the Assembly has already shown its weapons. Both the extreme right of Marine Le Pen and the left announced that they will shortly present their respective motions of censure to try to overthrow the government of the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne.
Evacuated by the police
Security forces intervened at night in the Place de la Concorde, in the heart of Paris, to disperse thousands of demonstrators who were protesting against the pension reform near the Chamber of Deputies.
The officers used water cannons after an attempt to damage the works of the ancient Egyptian Obelisk located in the center of the square, according to police. The action caused significant human tides, AFP journalists verified.
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The police charged and launched tear gas to move the protesters away from the bridge that connects the Plaza de la Concordia with the National Assembly (lower house). At least eight people were detained, according to police.
A good part of the demonstrators left the place around 8:30 pm towards the adjacent streets.
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