Paris in turmoil as pension demonstrators clash with police
The riot police clashed with protesters in Paris as demonstrations against the French government’s proposal to increase the retirement age continued.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Place de la Concorde, not far from the parliament building, on Friday.
With some chanting “Macron, Resign!”, the protestors lit fires and threw firecrackers at police– who used tear gas, water cannons and batons to disperse them.
The ongoing demonstrations over pension reform are the most serious challenge to President Macron’s authority since the so-called “Gilets Jaunes” or “Yellow Vest” protests in December 2018.
It is the second night of unrest since President Emmanuel decided to push through the reforms to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a vote.
“Something fundamental happened, and that is that, immediately, spontaneous mobilizations took place throughout the country,” Jean-Luc Melenchon said.
“It goes without saying that I encourage them, I think that’s where it’s happening,” he added.
“Changing the government or prime minister will not put out this fire, only withdrawing the reform,” said the head of the CFDT union, Laurent Berger.
The government, in its defense, stated that the ‘changes to pensions are essential to ensure the system is not overburdened and prevent it from collapsing’.
Many people, including union members, disagree and the country has now seen more than two months of heated political debate and strikes over the matter.
Protests also took place in other French cities including Bordeaux, Toulon and Strasbourg.
Following the unrest, transport, public services and schools have all been affected.