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Chaos in French parliament and protests on streets as Macron forces through bill to raise retirement age

Rarely chaotic scenes were witnessed in France’s parliament when President Emmanuel Macron used his special powers to pass a controversial pensions bill that would have raised the retirement age from 62 years to 64.

In the lower house, the national assembly, opposition politicians chanted and booed as they reacted to the news that the legislation would pass without a vote. Left-wing MPs sang lines from the national song in protest.

The government’s move has also provoked fierce reactions from the public. Unplanned protests were held by around 7,000 people on the Place de la Concorde, Paris, across the Seine from the assembly.

Image Photo: AP
Image Protesters gathered in Paris and police used tear gas.

According to Reuters, police used tear gas and a water cannon in dispersing protesters. Officers who were charged with groups of demonstrators were thrown cobble stones at them by a reporter.


After appearing to be injured, one police officer fell to the ground and was helped by his colleagues.

Because Mr Macron was not guaranteed a majority in parliament, the cabinet decided to invoke the special power, article 49.3.

He said that reforms were necessary to ensure that the pension system doesn’t go bankrupt as the population ages and lives longer.

However, the move could trigger motions against his government.

Image Photo: AP

The bill was adopted by the Senate (upper house) earlier on Thursday. This result was widely expected, as the conservative majority backs the reforms.

While Elisabeth Borne tried to officially announce the special procedure to the assembly, left-leaning politicians held placards that read “no to64 years” while Marine Le Pen demanded her resignation.

Image Photo: AP
Image Photo: AP

Other opposition politicians also stepped out of parliament to demand that the government be removed.

The speaker temporarily halted the session of the Parliamentary Assembly to restore order after the disruption.

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Image: Parisian students shout slogans against the government’s plans to raise the retirement age from 64 to 64. Pic by AP

Jean-Luc Melenchon (leader of the left-wing party France insoumise) called it “a spectacular failure”.

He said, “This bill does not have any parliamentary legitimacy. It has no legitimacy from the street.”

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Protesters clash with police in France

Opinion polls indicate that a large majority of voters are against the pension reforms. Trade unions also argue that there are better ways to balance the pension system account.

Olivier Faure, leader of the Socialist Party, said earlier that the bill could cause “uncontrollable anger” after weeks of protests and rolling strikes that have disrupted power production and halted some shipments to refineries. He also warned that it could lead to a “uncontrollable outrage” as he had previously stated that the bill could trigger unrest following weeks-long demonstrations and rolling strikes which have seen litter pile up in Paris.

Image Paris litter collection: AP

A no-confidence motion can only be passed if it is approved by at least half of the lower house seats – currently 287.

If the motion is successful, then the government will have to resign.


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