The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, is not having his best week. The protests over the reform that raises the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 have already turned into riots, joined by several partial strikes and, now, the panorama also includes two motions of censure that must be face Macron in the coming days. The discontent of the street, organized outside of unions and parties, has already moved to Parliament. The French Executive is on the brink of a political crisis that has not been seen since the outbreak of the ‘Yellow Vests’ revolt in 2018.
The keys to the pension reform that agitates France
The motions of censure were presented this Friday in the National Assembly in response to the approval of the pension reform by decree, skipping the vote of the deputies. The first motion was signed by 91 deputies from various parties and is headed by the small centrist group Libertades Independientes, Ultramar y Territorios (LIOT). The second was formalized by the leader of the extreme right, Marine Le Pen, and received the support of the other 87 deputies from her party, the National Rally (RN). Le Pen has also made it known that she will vote not only for her motion, but also for any other, even if it is from the left, to overthrow the Executive. For the far-right leader, Macron’s reform is “a serious attack on democratic principles”; “The important thing is that the government falls,” she says.
The motions are scheduled to be debated next Monday. To overthrow the Government, an absolute majority will be needed, which means gathering 289 votes, which at the moment are 287 due to the fact that there are several vacant seats.
Meanwhile, President Macron has not spoken in public since Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne activated article 49.3 of the Constitution on Thursday afternoon to be able to adopt the pension reform bill without submitting it to a vote. of the National Assembly.
This was the definitive spark that lit the streets of the country. That same Thursday, a series of spontaneous demonstrations took place in different cities, which degenerated into riots in some cases, particularly in Paris. In total there were 310 arrests, of which 258 in the capital.
This Friday there were also numerous incidents throughout the country, from blockades on some access roads to Paris to protests in more than a dozen French cities. In the midst of the mobilization in the Parisian Concordia, a huge bonfire was lit, in which cardboard effigies of Macron were burned, whom the protesters accuse of “turning their backs” on democracy for approving the reform thanks to the article of the Constitution 49.3. The protest ended with the intervention of the riot police, although the tension was less than the previous night.
The unions are also on the warpath, and have called a ninth day of strikes and demonstrations for next Thursday. The entrenched strike of the garbage collection in Paris, where at least 10,000 tons of waste accumulate in the streets, is ‘just’ one more, but perhaps the most visible today.
Garbage and transportation stoppages
Although the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, announced on Friday the forced mobilization of the cleaning workers of the capital to end this strike, there are still tons of waste scattered on the sidewalks of half the districts of Paris, and it will take time to get back to ‘normal’.
This Saturday, a disturbance in the circulation of high-speed trains, the regional TER and Intercities, is also expected. Air traffic should not register cancellations or delays due to the strike, although they are expected for Monday March 20, when 30% of the flights will be canceled at the Parisian Orly airport and 20% at the Marseille airport.
In the energy sector, at least four major refineries will be closed and, in addition, four gas transportation terminals remain under picket lines, as well as eleven gas tanks from Storengy, a subsidiary of Engie.