France pension protests: Crowds clash with police as government pushes through reform

  • By Kathryn Armstrong
  • in London

Video Caption,

Watch: Violence erupts in Paris as pension protests continue

Protesters clashed again with police in central Paris over the French government’s pension reform.

Thousands of protesters set fires and some threw firecrackers at police, who used tear gas to disperse them.

It is the second night of unrest since President Emmanuel Macron decided to push through controversial reforms to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a vote.

No-confidence motions were tabled against his government in response.

The first was signed by independents and members of the left-wing Nupes coalition in parliament, while a second came from the far-right National Rally party.

Both are expected to be debated early next week.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally deputies in parliament, called the decision to push through the pension changes “a total failure for the government”.

Police made dozens of arrests during the unrest in Place de la Concorde, not far from the parliament building.

Demonstrations also took place in other French cities on Friday – including Bordeaux, Toulon and Strasbourg.

“We won’t give up,” one protester told AFP news agency. “There is still hope that the reform can be revoked.”

Another told Reuters that pushing the legislation through without a vote was “a denial of democracy…a complete denial of what has been happening on the streets for several weeks.”

The government has said changes to pensions are essential to ensure the system is not overburdened and does not collapse.

But many people, including trade unionists, disagree and France has now seen more than two months of heated political debates and strikes over the issue.

“Changing government or prime minister will not put out this fire, only withdraw the reform,” said the leader of the moderate CFDT union, Laurent Berger.

Video Caption,

Watch: Uproar in the streets of Paris as the Prime Minister mocked Parliament

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