Riot police clash with protesters in Paris out of anger at Macron forcing unpopular pension reforms


IOT police clashed with protesters in Paris as anger erupted over President Emmanuel Macron forcing an increase in the retirement age without a parliamentary vote.

Water cannons and tear gas were used on Thursday evening to disperse protesters in the central Place de La Concorde.

Thousands took to the streets in response to President Macron’s use of a presidential emergency decree to push through an increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Police sealed off the square, the largest in Paris, where up to 6,000 people had gathered.

A Reuters reporter saw cobblestones thrown at police, who were ordered to break up groups of protesters and fire tear gas at the crowd.

Police cleared the area around 8:30 p.m., prompting protesters to disappear into side streets.

“A group of rioters escaped the police and started marching towards the Elysee Palace,” said an eyewitness.

“They wanted to go to Macron, to tell him what they think of his new measures.”

It came after Mr Macron lost a key vote in the National Assembly and thus used a presidential emergency decree to get what he wanted.

There was boos for Macron’s prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, when she announced the move in parliament, saying: “We can’t gamble on the future of our pension system.”

Protesters stand around flaming barriers during the demonstration at Place de la Concorde

/ AFP via Getty Images

MPs from France’s far-left Unbowed party sang La Marseillaise’s national anthem as Ms Borne previously struggled to make herself heard, while others held up signs reading ‘Democracy?’

The Senate passed the new legislation on Thursday morning and Ms Borne was expected to announce a vote in the National Assembly in the afternoon, but Macron said this was too risky.

Marine Le Pen, the National Rally MP who came second to Macron in the last two presidential elections, said: “This is a complete failure of the government”.

Ms Le Pen called for a vote of no confidence in the Macron government, saying it was a “failure of democracy” to see the president use Article 49.3 in the constitution – an article that passes legislation without a vote.

Thousands took part in demonstrations against the French government’s controversial retirement age reforms

/ AFP via Getty Images

Charles de Courson, an independent MP, said: “The government’s use of the 49.3 procedure reflects the failure of this presidential minority.

“Not only are they a minority in the National Assembly, they are a minority across the country, but we live in a democracy.”

And Fabien Roussel, the head of the communist party, said Macron was “not worthy of our Fifth Republic”.

Macron’s unpopular plan to raise the retirement age has sparked strikes and violent demonstrations across France.

Striking garbage collectors in Paris face jail if they refuse to clean up the French capital after a buildup of 8,000 tons of rubbish.

Members of parliament from the left hold banners and sing the Marseillaise, the French national anthem


Police “prosecuted” council workers on Thursday, saying if they continued to protest the pension reforms they would be prosecuted.

Polls show that more than 70 percent of the public oppose raising the retirement age and millions have turned out for the protests.

Macron’s centrist Renaissance Alliance has 250 MPs, so it had to convince opposition politicians to get 289 votes, or convince some to abstain in order to secure a majority.

The president has risked his reformist credentials on pension reform, and if he failed, he risked becoming a lame duck on home affairs with four years left in his second term.

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