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

  • Author: Kathryn Armstrong
  • in London

Video caption,

Watch: Violence erupts in Paris as pension protests continue

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

Thousands of protesters lit fires and some threw electric shocks at police, who fired tear gas to disperse them.

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

There have been no-confidence motions against his government.

The first was signed by independents and members of parliament’s leftist Nupes coalition, while the second was signed by the far-right National Rally party.

Both will be discussed at the beginning of next week.

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

Police made dozens of arrests during the unrest in the Place de la Concorde, near the Houses of Parliament.

Demonstrations were also organized on Friday in other French cities – especially in Bordeaux, Toulon and Strasbourg.

“We will not give up,” one protester told the AFP news agency. “There is still hope that the reform can be reversed.”

Another told Reuters that passing the law without a vote was “a denial of democracy … a total denial of what has been happening on the streets for several weeks.”

The government has said that the changes to pensions are necessary in order not to overburden the system and prevent it from collapsing.

But many people, including union members, disagree, and France has now seen more than two months of heated political debate and strikes over the issue.

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

Video caption,

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

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