Author: FRANCE 24
Publish date: 2023-03-17 06:21:44
Issued on: Modified:
Protesters on Friday clashed with police in Paris and other cities for a second night in a row after French President Emmanuel Macron rammed a pension reform through parliament without a vote. Opposition lawmakers earlier Friday tabled a no-confidence motion against the government amid mounting public anger.
Riot police clashed with protesters on Friday evening in Paris and other cities as a new demonstration erupted against the French government’s moves to raise the country’s retirement age.
At the Place de la Concorde in the heart of the French capital, a festive protest attended by several thousand people, with chants, dancing and a huge bonfire, degenerated into a scene echoing the night before.
Riot police charged and threw tear gas to empty the huge square across from the National Assembly after troublemakers climbed scaffolding on a renovation site, arming themselves with wood. They lobbed fireworks and paving stones at police in a standoff.
Police said they made 61 arrests.
The clashes came hours after the centrist group Liot tabled a multiparty no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament, which was co-signed by the far-left NUPES (New Ecological and Social Popular Union) alliance.
“The vote on this motion will allow us to get out on top of a deep political crisis,” said Bertrand Pancher, head of the Liot group.
Hours later, France’s far-right National Rally party, which has 88 members in the National Assembly, also filed a no-confidence motion.
“We will vote on all the no-confidence motions presented,” said National Rally lawmaker Laure Lavalette. “What matters is that this evil reform project falls,” she added.
Under French law, parliamentarians can vote on more than one no-confidence motions in the chamber. A no-confidence vote requires a majority, which means a minimum of 287 votes in the National Assembly.
The filing of the no-confidence motion came as protesters blocked a key highway around Paris and escalated strikes at refineries in a new show of anger after Macron pushed through the contentious pension reform by invoking Article 49.3 of the constitution.
Article 49.3 grants the government executive privilege to pass a bill without a parliamentary vote. Invoking Article 49.3 also permits the opposition to respond with a no-confidence motion.
‘Macron doesn’t give a fig about the people’
Macron has made hiking the country’s minimum retirement age a key priority of his second term, arguing that his deeply unpopular reform is needed to make the French economy more competitive and to keep the pension system from diving into deficit.
His move to bypass parliament sparked protests across the country on Thursday night, with hundreds arrested nationwide, according to the interior minister.
Soumaya Gentet, 51, a CGT union member from supermarket chain Monoprix, said she was incensed and would continue to protest until the bill was revoked.
“They’re not taking into account what the people want,” she said.
Her colleague Lamia Kerrouzi agreed. “Macron doesn’t give a fig about the people,” she said.
“He doesn’t understand the language of the people. It needs to be repealed.”
In the energy sector, strikers were to halt production at a large refinery by this weekend or Monday at the latest, CGT union representative Eric Sellini said.
Workers had already been on a rolling strike at the northern site TotalEnergies de Normandie, but halting production would escalate the industrial action.
Strikers continued to deliver less fuel than normal from several other sites, he added.
>> To read more: A dog day afternoon in French politics as Macron uses ‘nuclear option’ to raise retirement age
‘Playing with fire’
Shortly after French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne announced the triggering of Article 49.3 on Thursday afternoon, thousands of protesters gathered on Place de la Concorde, across the River Seine from parliament.
Police fired tear gas as angry demonstrators hurled cobblestones at security officers. In several other French cities, including Marseille, there were also spontaneous protests against the reform.
The ensuing unrest saw 310 people arrested around France, including 258 in Paris, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told RTL radio.
“The opposition is legitimate, the protests are legitimate, but wreaking havoc is not,” he said.
Macron put the pensions reform – which also seeks to increase the number of years people have to work to receive a full pension – at the centre of his re-election campaign last year.
But the 45-year-old former banker lost his parliamentary majority in June after elections for the lower-house National Assembly.
Opposition lawmakers jeered and booed as Borne invoked the controversial article 49.3 to ram through the pensions law on Thursday, having failed to ensure a majority.
Borne, whose own position is now on the line, has used the contested loophole to bypass a parliament vote 11 times since becoming prime minister last year.
The influential Le Monde newspaper warned that Macron was “playing with fire”.
“If the country slides into a new bout of anger or locks itself into vengeful paralysis, the executive will only have itself to blame,” it said in an editorial.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP , AP and REUTERS)
Author: FRANCE 24
Publish date: 2023-03-17 06:21:44