Paris: Fierce Pensions Debate Sparks Protests Across French Cities

Paris: Fierce Pensions Debate Sparks Protests Across French Cities

Reports from Paris indicate that the city experienced unrest overnight, with the police arresting 142 people during street protests that followed the finalization of the French government’s pensions reforms. The political dispute surrounding the pension reforms continues to escalate with no end in sight, and it seems that things may get worse before they get better.

According to broadcaster BFMTV, eleven police officers were injured during the protests. Demonstrations also occurred in other cities such as Saint-Étienne, Strasbourg, Amiens, Caen, and Toulouse, as reported by various media outlets.

In response to the situation, President Emmanuel Macron plans to meet Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and the leaders of different political groups on Tuesday to address the fallout from the previous day’s political developments. The government had survived two no-confidence votes on Monday, which were triggered by the decision to force through the highly-debated legislation without a vote in the lower house of parliament.

Around 2,000 police officers were deployed in Paris alone to tackle the unrest, according to BFMTV. Some protesters set fire to rubbish bins and carried placards calling for Macron’s resignation or threatening to take up arms against the government. Politicians from both the right and left have called for Borne’s resignation as well.

The reform that was passed on Monday aims to gradually raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, a move that has been met with repeated strikes and violent protests for weeks. The pension reform aimed to address a looming gap in France’s pension fund, which is why the government was keen on passing the legislation.

Macron noted that the retirement age in France is currently 62; however, retirement begins later on average, and those who have not paid in long enough for a full pension must work longer. Nevertheless, the reform has been met with considerable opposition, and the outcome of Monday’s votes was narrower than many had anticipated, seen as a blow to the government.

Further strikes and protests are planned for Thursday, indicating that the political dispute is far from over. Opposition parties are expected to refer the dispute to a Constitutional Council on Tuesday, which means that the government could face further legal challenges in the coming days. The French public is bracing for more unrest and uncertainty as the debate over the pension reforms continues to heat up.

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