After two nights of intense public protest against French President Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular decision to introduce pension reforms without parliamentary approval, the “public thoroughfare in Place de la Concorde and its surroundings” and the area around Champs d’Elysees were declared off limits, according to RT.
Police arrested 61 demonstrators in the forbidden zones on Friday after bottles and fireworks were thrown at heavily armored officers. Another 36 were arrested in Lyon after protesters allegedly tried to break into and burn down a town hall.
Macron’s reform would raise the retirement age by two years, from 62 to 64, by 2030, and require workers to contribute to the system for 43 years before receiving a full pension. Although Macron argues that the measure is necessary to avoid the country slipping into an irreversible debt spiral, two-thirds of French voters oppose it, and opposition politicians argue there are other means of bridging the fiscal gap, such as raising taxes on the wealthy.
The measure passed the Senate earlier this week, and Macron subsequently used Article 49.3 of the French Constitution to ram it through the National Assembly without a vote.
This has been called “a complete denial of democracy” by unions, who have called for a weekend of protests and a strike day next Thursday. Opposition lawmakers on both the left and the right filed no-confidence motions on Friday, which will be debated on Monday.
However, these will require the backing of half the opposition Republicans to unseat the government, which French media reports suggest is unlikely.
The reform has been met with months of strikes and protests, echoing the Yellow Vest movement of pre-Covid France, a revolt that also centered on Macron’s controversial neoliberal austerity proposals.