Hundreds of Thousands Protest Against French Pension Plans

Protests in Paris

France has seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets in protest against Emmanuel Macron’s use of constitutional executive powers to impose a contentious increase in the retirement age to 64. 

While protests in Paris and Nantes were peaceful, with the majority of demonstrators chanting and demanding for the pension changes to be reversed, men wearing masks or hoods clashed with police on the outskirts of some cities.

As the march approached Place de la Nation in the city’s east, protesters at the head of the march, wearing black and covering their features, looted a supermarket and then set it on fire. This occurred as the march approached Place de la Nation. According to the Paris police, at least 22 individuals were arrested in the capital by the afternoon.

AFP reported that demonstrators in the western city of Nantes threw projectiles at security forces, who responded with tear gas. In close proximity to a courthouse, a bank branch and trash cans were set on fire. The southeastern French city of Lyon utilized water cannons. After bus stations were vandalized in Lille, police employed tear gas.

Thursday’s strikes and protests in France appeared to attract a slightly smaller crowd than the previous day’s demonstrations. The French interior ministry reported that 740,000 individuals participated in nationwide protests.

Nearly two weeks after the government pushed the new pensions legislation through using a special provision that circumvented a parliamentary vote, unions have vowed to continue mass protests in an effort to force the government to back down. Macron refuses to abdicate the pension age increase, which was a central plank of his manifesto prior to his reelection last year.