6 June 2023 by https://www.thecanary.co/
People have been out protesting once again in France over president Macron‘s pension reforms. This is despite him passing the changes into law in April. The demonstrations came as public support for Macron continued to look shaky.
However, the bigger picture here is that French people are refusing to back down in the face of politicians’ nefarious actions.
Macron: resistance against the pension plan
As the Canary previously reported:
Macron forced through reforms to France’s state pension system in April. Amongst other measures, he raised the pension age from 62 to 64.
The government printed parts of the pensions overhaul, including the key increase in the retirement age, in France’s official journal on Sunday 4 June. This means they are now law. However, unions have led a revolt against the plans.
The protests haven’t been without problems. The state has come down hard on some demonstrators. The Canary reported that, during May Day protests:
Police fired gas at demonstrators in Toulouse in southern France, while four cars were set on fire in Lyon. In Nantes, police also fired tear gas, whilst protesters hurled projectiles. And in Marseille, protesters briefly occupied the luxury InterContinental, smashing flowerpots and damaging furniture.
And, on Tuesday 6 June, people once again turned out to show their anger at Macron and his crony-capitalist reforms.
Yet more protests in France
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on the 14th day of demonstrations against the president’s law changes since January. Macron signed the legislation into law in April, raising the pension age to 64 from 62 after the government used a controversial-but-legal mechanism to avoid a vote in parliament on the bill.
The General Confederation of Labour (CGT) Union has been central to the fight back against Macron. Its head, Sophie Binet, said of the protests:
It’s going to be another big day in the history of the trade union movement… After six months the unions are still united and the level of anger, frustration and motivation is high.
I hear people say sometimes that everything is over, but it’s not true.
Clearly, countless people feel the same. On 6 June, people came out for around 250 demos across France. The CGT took direct action in some places, cutting power supplies to companies:
People also targeted the headquarters for France’s 2024 Olympic Games hosting:
Marches took place in cities, such as Toulouse:
In Nantes, cops again fired tear gas at the public:
AFP reported the state had put 11,000 cops on duty for the day. In contrast to March and April, when rubbish piled up in the streets of Paris and most long-distance trains were cancelled, there was only limited disruption to transport and public services. For example, around a third of flights were cancelled at Paris Orly airport.
Will anything stop Macron?
Meanwhile, Macron’s arrogant refusal to back down had been hitting him in the polls. However, his personal ratings are also moving higher again, having plunged to near-record depths in March and April.
After two months of falls, a poll on 2 June showed that 29% of people had confidence in his ability to manage the country, up four points. However, around two thirds of people (64%) expressed no confidence in him. This underlines the deep animosity felt by many voters towards the former investment banker.
It remains to be seen whether anything can reverse Macron’s deplorable law changes now. There is a motion by an opposition party in France’s parliament to try and undo the law. However, it is unlikely this will work. So, it is likely people will continue to protest.
Ultimately, Macron probably doesn’t care – as this is his second and final term in office. The effect of this scandal on his party, though, likely to last.