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France Turmoil Continues with Over a Million Protesting Macron’s Retirement Bill

Over the past few weeks, France has been rocked by angry protests across the country. This erupted in response to President Macron’s new pension reform bill, which includes raising the legal age of retirement from 62 to 64. The proposed pension changes have caused major protests and strikes across the country since January. On Thursday, March 16th, Macron resorted to using “special constitutional powers” where he planned to push his plan through the lower house of the parliament. He stated in a television interview that his reforms needed to be implemented by the “end of the year” as a matter of “financial necessity.” 

Macron’s stand on the retirement bill that his government forced through parliament without a vote in the National Assembly further angered the nation, causing increasingly violent clashes between police and demonstrators. Macron’s Renaissance party argues that reform of this pension system is “necessary to sustain it long into the future.” However, opinion polls indicate the general public actually support industrial action to oppose the changes. 

More than a million people demonstrated across the nation this past Thursday as increased police violence erupted. Paris drew more than 100,000, a record for the capital during these pension protests. Interior minister Gérald Darmanin said: “There were a lot of demonstrations and some of them turned violent, notably in Paris,” Darmian also noted that 903 fires lit the streets of Paris in one of the most violent day of protests since January. 

Clashes between police and black clad protestors became violent as tear gas was dispersed by the police onto the protestors. Public transportation was also impacted and 30 percent of flights at Paris Orly Airport were canceled. The Eiffel Tower also closed Thursday due to the strikes. With the protests unlikely to go away, King Charles III was forced to postpone a visit to Paris planned for this weekend.

In the midst of these strikes and protests, France also put in place a ban on various social media platforms and games on government staff phones this past Saturday March 25th. The ban came into force immediately, including platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Candy Crush and Netflix. The Minister of Public Sector Transformation and the Civil Service Stanislas Guerini mentioned that the ban was put in place to “guarantee the cybersecurity of our administrations.” 

As protests continue to spread throughout France, many, from human right organizations to foreign ministers, have been critical against the violence displayed towards peaceful protests by the French police. 

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  • Sayyeda Fatima

    Sayyeda Fatima is an American current affairs writer who focuses on analyzing domestic and broader global politics from lenses not projected by Western media.

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