Violent Protests Break Out in Paris After President Macron Forces Pension Reform

Demonstrations escalated Thursday and French President Emmanual Macron imposed a contested bill that raised the retirement age from 62 to 64.

A protester throws a rock towards French Riot Police amidst clouds of tear gas during clashes

Image via Getty/Kiran Ridley

A protester throws a rock towards French Riot Police amidst clouds of tear gas during clashes

French protests intensified this week after the government imposed a highly contested bill that raised the retirement age from 62 to 64.

According to Al Jazeera, thousands of demonstrators took to the Place de la Concorde on Thursday night to express their outrage over President Emmanuel Macron’s pensions reform. The Renaissance leader deployed his executive power to push the bill through parliament without a vote by lawmakers. Macron made the risky move after ministers determined they might not receive the necessary support within the National Assembly.

Macron pitched the pension change as a way to strengthen the French economy and make it more competitive; but the plan, which was revealed last year, was met with widespread outrage and resulted in months-long street demonstrations, nationwide walkouts, and extended work strikes.

Tensions escalated Thursday night after the president used Article 49:3 of the French Constitution to avoid a vote in parliament. Riot police reportedly used tear gas, water cannons, and batons on demonstrators who gathered at the square. Paris authorities told AFP that 120 protestors were arrested by nightfall.

Des milliers de personnes sur la Place de la #Concorde actuellement #ReformeDesRetraites #NonALaReformeDesRetraites @LucAuffret pour @LibreQg

Protests also broke out in French cities, like Toulouse, Nice, Dijon, and Grenoble.

“It’s proof that the president’s party is a minority in Parliament, but he is also a minority in public opinion,” French teacher/demonstrator Olivier Chaibi told Democracy Now. “The responsibility is on President Macron. After he refused to have dialogue with the unions, he decided to pass this law by force. This law, which is unfair and unpopular, will result in people working more to get less.”

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