Pension protests in France: Crowd clashes with police as government implements reforms

  • By Kathryn Armstrong
  • in London

Video caption,

Watch: Violence erupts in Paris as pension protests continue

Protesters have clashed again with police in central Paris over the French government’s pension reforms.

Thousands of protesters lit fires and some threw firecrackers at police, who used tear gas to disperse them.

It is the second night of unrest since President Emmanuel Macron decided to push through controversial reforms to raise the non-vote retirement age from 62 to 64.

Motions of no confidence have been filed against his government in response.

The first was signed by independents and members of the left-wing Nupes coalition in parliament, while a second came from the far-right National Rally party.

Both are expected to be discussed early next week.

National Rally MPs leader Marine Le Pen called the decision to push through the pension changes “a total failure for the government”.

Police made dozens of arrests during the unrest on Place de la Concorde, not far from the parliament building.

Protests also took place in other French cities on Friday, in particular Bordeaux, Toulon and Strasbourg.

“We are not giving up,” one protester told AFP news agency. “There is still hope that the reform can be withdrawn.”

Another told Reuters that passing the legislation without a vote was “a denial of democracy… a total denial of what has been happening in the streets for several weeks.”

The government has said the changes to pensions are essential to ensure the system does not become overburdened and prevent it from collapsing.

But many people, including trade unionists, disagree and France has now experienced more than two months of heated political debate and strikes over the issue.

“Changing the government or the prime minister will not put out this fire, it will only withdraw the reform,” said the head of the moderate trade union CFDT, Laurent Berger.

Video caption,

Watch: Riots in the streets of Paris as Prime Minister was laughed at in parliament

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