Pressure mounts on Macron after violent unrest over pensions : The Tribune India

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Pressure mounts on Macron after violent unrest over pensions

Pressure mounts on Macron after violent unrest over pensions

Protesters stand in a cloud of teargas in Paris. AP/PTI



Paris, March 17

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday faced the gravest challenge to his authority since the so-called Yellow Vest protests after his decision to push through a contested pension overhaul without a vote prompted violent unrest overnight.

Row over retirement

  • The French are deeply attached to keeping the official retirement age at 62
  • The pension overhaul raises retirement age to 64

Cars were torched in Paris and other French cities in the evening during otherwise peaceful demonstrations involving several thousand people. Trade unions urged workers to step up and briefly blocked the Paris ring road on Friday.

“Something fundamental happened, and that is that, immediately, spontaneous mobilisations took place throughout the country,” hard-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said. “It goes without saying that I encourage them, I think that’s where it’s happening.”

The pension overhaul raises France’s retirement age by two years to 64, which the government says is essential to ensure the system does not go bust. Unions, and most voters, disagree.

The French are deeply attached to keeping the official retirement age at 62, which is among the lowest in OECD countries.

More than eight out of 10 people are unhappy with the government's decision to skip a vote in Parliament, and 65 per cent want strikes and protests to continue, a Toluna Harris Interactive poll for RTL radio showed.

Going ahead without a vote “is a denial of democracy...a total denial of what has been happening in the streets for several weeks”, 52-year-old psychologist Nathalie Alquier said in Paris. “It’s just unbearable.”

A broad alliance of France’s main unions said they would continue their mobilisation to try and force a U-turn on the changes. Protests took place in cities including Toulon on Friday, with more were planned for the weekend. A new day of nationwide industrial action is scheduled for Thursday. — Reuters


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