Protests continue in France after the imposition of the pension reform

"The opposition is legitimate, the demonstrations are legitimate, the disorder is not [lo es]"the Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, assured on RTL radio, warning that the government will not allow the appearance of "spontaneous demonstrations".

“The opposition is legitimate, the demonstrations are legitimate, the disorder is not [lo es]Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on RTL radio, warning that the government will not allow the appearance of “spontaneous demonstrations.”

Photo: EFE – Mohammed Badra

Roads closed, refineries paralyzed, secondary schools blocked, tons of garbage accumulated in Paris… The battle against the unpopular pension reform continued this Friday in France with a multiplication of actions after its controversial adoption.

“We are outraged,” said Soumaya Gentet, a trade unionist at the Monoprix supermarket and one of the 200 people who blocked the ring road around Paris for half an hour in the morning. “We will hold out until the withdrawal” of the reform, she stressed.

The day before, the liberal president Emmanuel Macron decided to adopt its reform -whose most symbolic measure is to delay the retirement age from 62 to 64 years-, without submitting it to the vote of the deputies, fearing a defeat in Parliament, by virtue of a legal but controversial mechanism: the Article 49.3 of the Constitution.

Also read: The French government imposes the pension reform by decree

Between cries of the opposition and songs of the national anthem, The marsellesaPrime Minister Élisabeth Borne formalized it shortly after in the National Assembly (lower house), unleashing protests in several cities that left more than 300 detainees.

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In Paris, the police intervened on Thursday night with charges, tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters gathered in the Place de la Concorde, near the Assembly. Incidents were also reported in Rennes, Nantes and Lyon.

“The opposition is legitimate, the demonstrations are legitimate, the disorder is not [lo es]”, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin assured on RTL radio, warning that the government will not allow the appearance of “spontaneous demonstrations”.

The radical left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon “encouraged” for his part “spontaneous mobilizations” throughout the country, pending the new day of massive protests called by the unions next Thursday.

It may interest you: Cry in unison in France for pension reform: “The country must be blocked”

Sporadic and specific protests multiplied in France with the blockade of secondary schools, railway lines, mail delivery platforms… In Paris, the mountains of garbage continue to accumulate and the government prepares requisitions of workers on strike.

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“The employees raised their tone,” said Éric Sellini, a CGT unionist in the TotalEnergies group, when announcing the suspension of activity at the Normandy (west) refinery over the weekend. This sector is one of the most mobilized for more than a week.

“Failure” and “Weakness”

The government is under pressure. For observers, the use of article 49.3, instead of submitting his plan to a vote, is a “failure” and symbolizes the “weakness” of Macron, who is gambling with this reform his ability to act during his second term.

“The president could save the furniture by announcing that the law will be repealed after this undemocratic adoption. But it is not like him to listen to the French”, reads the editorial of the left-wing newspaper Libération.

“It is not a failure,” Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt told RMC and BFMTV media. “Our vocation is to continue governing,” government spokesman Olivier Véran added on France Inter radio.

But the prime minister appears very weakened, after defending the dialogue with the opposition for months to try to approve this reform. Two out of three French people are against it.

Also read: The pulse of the pension reform in France, in the midst of social protests

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The far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose party comes out stronger in the polls on the social conflict, has already announced the presentation of a motion of censure against the government, the only way to also knock down the reform.

The president of your party National Association (RN)Jordan Bardella, called on all deputies to support her and assured that the 45-year-old liberal president “takes an unhealthy pleasure from organizing chaos in the country.”

However, the motion of censure that could garner the most support is the one announced by a group of independent deputies, LIOT, which could attract the left and the extreme right, as well as disenchanted deputies from Los Republicanos (right).

The president of this party, Éric Ciotti, indicated that they will not support the motion of censure against a government with which they negotiated the reform. However, some deputies, such as Aurélien Pradié, indicated instead that they will think about it, making the vote uncertain next week.

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