smallsausage yes Sizzling over an open grill; bass beats pumped from nearby floats. A huge red banner reads “A Strong Desire for Happiness”. The mood in Paris was festive, despite fears the protest could turn violent. Those who staged their 10th one-day nationwide strike on March 28 against the French government’s move to raise the minimum pension age from 62 to 64 have vowed not to give up. Many of them are very young.
“Yes, we’re worried about our pensions,” said Emmeline, a 20-year-old law student who was protesting for the sixth time. She is willing to retire after two years, but out of “solidarity” with others. Joanna, 30, works as a garbage collector at Paris City Hall and has been on strike for weeks. She thinks “retirement at 60 feels good, 64 is too much”. Joanna suggested that President Emmanuel Macron should come down and try to clean the streets. “I just want him to understand that the French, the Parisians are tired.”
740,000 demonstrators across France to vote March 28 below the level of five days ago. But the protests appear to be continuing. The next national strike has been scheduled for April 6. Legislation to raise the pension age may have passed parliament without a direct vote. But the constitutional council still needs to approve the reforms. It will also rule against a proposal to hold a referendum on retirement age. Its decision is due on April 14.
“It’s never too late,” said Mohammad, a member of the group CGT, trade unions, protest in Paris. “Macron and the government must listen ras-le-bol (Enough is enough) People. ’ The anger at the president was sharp. CFDT, the largest trade union in the country. “But his defiance is dramatic and drives us nuts.”
Mr Macron seems determined not to back down. But he is under pressure to ease tensions. 903 arson attacks in Paris on the night of March 23, called anarchist black block,joined. Dumpsters full of stinking rubbish were burned. In Bordeaux, rioters set the gates of the city hall ablaze. Across France, 457 people were arrested, 441 law enforcement officers were injured, and there were countless protesters. French police have been accused of using excessive force.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has agreed to meet union leaders next week. It’s hard to see what they can agree on, though. Laurent Berger, Principal CFDT, wants to “pause” pension reform, an idea the government rejects. His relationship with Mr Macron started off good in 2017 but has soured. “It’s not personal,” Mr Berger told economist During this week’s protest marches. “But for two and a half months, with millions of people on the street, week after week, his response was: no meeting, no phone calls, nothing.”
The political ramifications of the incident look dark. If Mr Macron were to call new elections, no one would win a majority. His centrist coalition would lose five points and get just 22% of the first-round vote. The party that benefited the most was Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally, which rose seven points to 26%. ■