Tension in France: the Police dispersed those who protested against the pension reform in front of Parliament

The French Police had to intervene to decentralize the demonstrations in France (AP) (Lewis Joly /)

The security forces intervened this Thursday night in the Place de la Concorde, in the heart of Paris, to disperse thousands of demonstrators protesting against the pension reform near the Chamber of Deputies, confirmed the news agency AFP.

The agents used water cannons after an attempt to damage the works of the ancient Egyptian Obelisk located in the center of the square, according to what was indicated by the police.

Since mid-afternoon, thousands of people have gathered in the square after the government adopted an unpopular reform, which delays the retirement age from 62 to 64, without submitting it to a vote by the deputies.

Police charged and fired tear gas to drive protesters away from the bridge that connects the Plaza de la Concordia with the National Assembly (lower house). At least eight people were detained, according to police.

A good part of the demonstrators left the place around 20:30 (19:30 GMT) towards the adjacent streets.

Several cities in France registered spontaneous demonstrations against the reform promoted by the liberal president Emmanuel Macron.

Likewise, French unions plan another day of strikes and demonstrations against the reform promoted by President Emmanuel Macron. “The united union front continues to demand the withdrawal of the reform and calls another day of strikes and demonstrations for Thursday, March 23,” the head of the hardline CGT union said at a press conference. Catherine Perret.

protests in France
Thousands of French people took to the streets again to protest against the pension reform promoted by Emmanuel Macron (AP) (Thomas Padilla /)

The Government invoked special constitutional powers on Thursday to promote the questioned reform without a vote in Parliament, where its centrist party does not have an absolute majority.

Macron and his government are facing a real political storm after approval by decree and without a vote in the National Assembly in the absence of a clear majority among the deputies.

The decision, taken after the third meeting of the day at the Elysee, between Macron, his prime minister, Elisabeth Borneand several members of the Executive, opened the way to the announcement of separate motions of censure by the left and the extreme right, as well as requests for the resignation of the head of government.

Borne faced the bad taste of announcing before the plenary session of the National Assembly the Government’s recourse to article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows a measure to be approved without a parliamentary vote, and which was agreed after a brief extraordinary Council of Ministers.

“You cannot run the risk of playing with the future of pensions, this reform is necessary,” said Borne amid shouts and boos from the opposition, before assuring that his government makes this decision “out of responsibility.”

Borne had to speak between some mockery and the repeated chants of La Marseillaise from the left-wing deputies, who also chanted “resign, resign” to the prime minister, a brief but stormy intervention.

Thousands of people also demonstrated in front of the Eiffel Tower (REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol)
Thousands of people also demonstrated in front of the Eiffel Tower (REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol) (PASCAL ROSSIGNOL /)

The recourse to 49.3 opens the doors to a possible political crisis, with several calls from the opposition for the resignation of Borne and the rapid announcement of two motions of censure, one by the left and the other by the extreme right.

“Borne cannot continue,” the far-right leader clearly stated Marine LePenwho stressed that “a majority of the French” had spoken out against the government’s project.

He also advanced that his group will vote in favor of any motion of no confidence, even if it is from the left, after the Executive’s decision to circumvent the parliamentary vote. “The important thing is not who presents the motion, the important thing is that the government falls,” he stressed.

Le Pen, who considered that the situation is one of a “deep political crisis”, pointed directly to President Macron, since, he said, the pensions reform was the only reform he presented during last year’s electoral campaign.

“A text that does not have a majority in the National Assembly or the support of the people should go to the trash can”said the deputy from the extreme right, who considered that with the recourse to 49.3 the Executive “shows its weakness.”

The left is also preparing a motion of censure, according to the communist leader, Fabien Rousselwho encouraged the mobilization to continue in the streets and insisted on his initiative to request a referendum, for which four million signatures are needed.

Left-wing parliamentarians protest in Congress during Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne's speech (REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol)
Left-wing parliamentarians protest in Congress during Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s speech (REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol) (PASCAL ROSSIGNOL /)

“The motion of no confidence is ready, we will try to get it to receive the greatest possible support,” said the communist deputy.

The Senate had approved the reform this morning by a comfortable margin (193 votes in favor and 114 against), but the doubts in an appreciable number of deputies from the Macronista bloc and from the conservative LR party did not make it possible to achieve the necessary number of votes to favor in the Assembly.

Those doubts remained despite the fact that the Government had accepted some changes in its legislative project at the request of LR, with which Borne and his ministers hoped to achieve sufficient support in the Assembly, something that was not finally confirmed.

The chaotic day was framed by new partial strikes in various sectors (railway, energy or air traffic controllers), while the garbage collection in half of Paris is already on its tenth day of strike.

(With information from AFP and EFE)

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