120 arrested as France protests against pension reform

Police intervened in Paris on Thursday evening to disperse protesters near the Parliament in Place de la Concorde, where thousands of protesters gathered against the adoption of the pension reform.

And Paris police said security forces intervened, mostly with water cannons, after they attempted to destroy the Obelisk site in the center of the square, according to AFP.

While his speech caused a large crowd movement in square.

Several other French cities, such as Marseille, have also seen unplanned protests against the reform, according to Reuters.

Additionally, the police arrested 120 people in relation to the protests.

special procedure

Interestingly, French Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne used a special procedure to pass a pensions bill in the National Assembly (the camera of parliament), who is facing popular rejection, with no vote on Thursday, prompting boos and calling for her to resign in chaotic scenes that rarely occur in the French parliament.

This step will ensure the bill is passed after weeks of protests and heated debates. The bill would raise the retirement age by two years to 64, which the government says is necessary to ensure the pension system is protected from bankruptcy.

But it also shows that President Emmanuel Macron and his government have failed to secure a majority in parliament, a blow to the centrist president and his ability to win the support of other parties for the future reforms.

Suspension of the session for two minutes

Bourne was booed and jeered by MPs as he arrived at the National Assembly to announce that he would invoke Article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows the reform measure to be passed without a vote.

The session was suspended for two minutes after leftist lawmakers barred Bourne from speaking. Some carried banners reading: “No to the 64-year extension”.

You should resign

When the session resumed, Bourne began his speech, which was often interrupted by the same boos and cheers. “We can’t bet on the future of our pensions, this reform is necessary,” he told MPs, explaining why he used article 49.3.

On the other hand, the leader of the far right, Marine Le Pen, said the prime minister should resign, saying that “the last-minute recourse to Article 49.3 is an unusual sign of weakness. He must go”.

When asked about possible resignations in an interview with the TF1 television channel, Born replied that he still had a lot of work to do, such as “the energy crisis, the climate crisis and the war in Ukraine in course”.

Another moving day

In addition, French unions have called for another day of strikes and actions against the reforms on Thursday 23 March.

Opposition parties have said they will call for a vote of no confidence in the government in the coming days, possibly on Monday.

But that is unlikely to happen with the expectation that it will only win the support of most Conservative MPs if a surprise coalition of MPs from all sides, from far left to far right, including the Conservatives, is formed.