Chaotic Protests Over Pension Reforms in France
457 Arrests and Over 441 Injuries
Protests have erupted across France after the government passed controversial pension reforms. The reform will incrementally increase the retirement age from 62 to 64. On Thursday, at least 457 people were arrested and over 441 security personnel were injured in demonstrations against the reforms. President Emmanuel Macron claims the reforms are necessary to reduce France’s debt and boost productivity.
Agitators and Violence
Unions claim that 3.5 million workers protested, while the government puts the number closer to 1 million. Agitators took advantage of the discord and violence ensued. The majority of protesters arrested in Paris were members of “ultra-left” groups, according to the interior minister, Gérald Darmanin. Fires have been reported in Paris and Bordeaux, where the town hall was set alight. Schools are closed and transportation has been affected by industrial strikes.
No Backing Down
After Macron’s statement that protests were “legitimate” but he would not back down on the reforms, many French citizens renewed their protests with more intensity. The unrest has been alarming enough for King Charles III to postpone his planned visit to the country set to take place next week. Unions want the strikes to force a government U-turn, but authorities are now taking measures to contain protest violence with more forceful means.
Potentially Devastating Effects
The protests could have potentially devastating impacts on France, with travel disrupted and the economy impacted by strikes. The question remains: who will flinch first?