FRANCE: Emmanuel Macron anticipated undergoing the full weight of the French rampage on Thursday as protestors congregated around the country to exhibit their demur to the pension age being hiked up from 62 to 64.
Record numbers of employees had already demonstrated in the streets before the centrist government of the president rammed the hotly contentious law through parliament using a constitutional provision that averted a vote a week earlier.
Since then, Macron’s government has narrowly (by nine votes) survived a vote of no confidence, but the way the law was passed has stoked public unrest.
On Thursday, police had been warned of more than 200 protests around France and were preparing for a big turnout of hundreds of thousands of people at the main march in Paris.
Shops, banks, and businesses were boarded up early in the morning along the route from Bastille to the opera house, which is the main east-west axis across the north of the city, and vanloads of police and gendarmes were stationed along roads.
Massive strikes and industrial action led to considerable transport disruption on the roads and in the air, with aircraft cancelled. Up to 30% of flights scheduled to depart from Orly, south of Paris, as well as up to 20% of flights scheduled to depart from Marseille, Bordeaux, and Lyon, were expected to be cancelled on Friday and Saturday as a result of the protests, according to airport authorities.
On Thursday morning, protesters shut down Terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle Airport, which is located north of Paris. Schools have shuttered and universities have been blocked around France, notably in Paris, Rouen, Marseille, and Toulouse.
In his televised interview, Macron averted the cessation of parliament, a reorganisation of his centrist government, and the resignation of his prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, as the opposition demanded.
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