Pension protests pile pressure on Macron ahead of crucial vote for France
French President Emmanuel Macron faces a tough test on Monday when the National Assembly will review a no-confidence motion following days of turmoil when his government bypassed parliament on Thursday to push a deeply unpopular pension reform. .
The move comes after weeks of protests over pension reform that sparked three nights of riots and demonstrations in Paris and across the country, reminiscent of the yellow vest protests that erupted in late 2018 over high fuel prices.
However, while Monday’s vote may stoke anger against Macron’s government, they are unlikely to overthrow it.
Opposition lawmakers introduced two no-confidence motions to parliament on Friday.
Centrist group Lyot put forward a multiparty motion of no confidence, co-signed by the leftist Nupes coalition. Hours later, France’s far-right Rally National party, which has 88 members of the National Assembly, also tabled a motion of no confidence.
But while Macron’s party lost its outright majority in the House of Commons in last year’s elections, the multiparty motion is unlikely to pass – unless lawmakers from the far left to the right form a surprising coalition. The union of the far right.
>> Debate: At what price does the French government override pensions over parliament?
Leaders of the conservative Republican (LR) party have ruled out such a coalition. None of them backed the first no-confidence motion filed on Friday.
But the party still faces some pressure.
In the southern city of Nice, the political office of LR party leader Eric Ciotti was ransacked overnight, leaving behind tags threatening riots if the motion was not supported.
“They want to use violence to pressure my vote on Monday. I will never give in to the horrific new protégé,” Jyoti tweeted.
Macron’s reforms raised the minimum retirement age by two years to 64, which the government says is crucial to ensuring the system does not go bust.
“I don’t think there will be a majority to overthrow the government. But it will be a critical moment,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Parisien newspaper, commenting on Monday’s vote prospects .
“Is pension reform worth overthrowing the government and political chaos? The answer is clearly no. Everyone must do their part,” he added.
“We’re being trampled on”
Macron made pension reform a centerpiece of his successful re-election bid last year, but he lost his parliamentary majority in subsequent polls – in part because of opposition to his pension plan.
>> Macron’s fierce pension battle to bypass French parliament turns into democratic crisis
Critics say the planned changes are unfair to those who start manual labor at a young age and to women who interrupt their careers to raise children.
More than two-thirds of French people oppose the reforms, while Macron’s support has plummeted to just 28 percent, according to a poll published on Sunday by the Sunday Journal.
Police banned a rally opposite parliament on Saturday after two nights of rioting in a key Parisian square.
However, thousands of protesters rallied in another part of the capital, with some barricading the streets, burning trash cans and smashing billboards.
Security forces charged the demonstrators and fired tear gas and water cannon into Plaza Italia. Police have arrested 81 people at or near the site, a police source said.
Protests were also seen in other towns after area unions called for demonstrations over the weekend.
Ariane Laget, 36, was one of about 200 people demonstrating in the southern town of Lodève.
“We’ve had enough,” she said. “We felt like we were being trampled on and no one was listening.”
Thousands of people took to the streets of the western city of Nantes, where a placard read “Death to the King,” an apparent reference to the president.
Some protesters threw bottles at members of the security forces, who retaliated with tear gas, an AFP photographer said.
The union called for another nationwide strike and rally on Thursday.
Meanwhile, garbage collectors in Paris went on strike, leaving an estimated 10,000 tonnes of rubbish rotting in the streets.
Strikers at three incinerators outside Paris will let some garbage trucks pass “to limit the risk of an epidemic,” a union representative said on Saturday.
(Reuters, Agence France-Presse on the 24th, France)