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Macron-favored Paris Brasserie Sets on Fire as Pension Demonstrations Continue

Hundreds of thousands of primarily peaceful protestors gathered to the streets once more in France

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FRANCE: Protests have broken out in towns across France, with hundreds of thousands of people rallying against Emmanuel Macron’s proposals to raise the retirement age to 64. 

The awning of the Left Bank brasserie La Rotonde in Paris was briefly set on fire by demonstrators, who set trash cans on fire and hurled objects at police. La Rotonde is famous for hosting Macron’s 2017 presidential election celebrations.

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The most significant political problem of Macron’s second term as president is the two-and-a-half-month-long protest movement over his proposals to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64. 

Trade unions have organised a day of nationwide strikes and nonviolent street protests every week, but there have been confrontations between police and protestors near the outskirts of demonstrations. Despite a drop in turnout in recent weeks, unions vow to continue to mobilise and demand the change be undone.

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The government is awaiting a verdict from the Constitutional Council of France on its pension reforms, which would accelerate the number of years needed to qualify for a full pension and raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.

The government bypassed parliament to enact the amendments in mid-March, leading to university barricades and student protests.

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The pension modifications will be evaluated by the constitutional council, which has the authority to invalidate part or all of the legislation. The government is hoping that strikes and protests will end, but unions want to demonstrate that the anti-government movement is still growing. 

Thursday’s strikes had an impact on refineries, trains, aircraft, and schools, but there was less travel disruption than in recent weeks.

Macron’s popularity has decreased due to the protracted demonstrations over his pension reforms. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the largest opposition party in parliament, has maintained a low profile in an effort to gain the support of low-income workers. If the presidential election from last spring were held today, Le Pen would defeat Macron, receiving 55% of the vote, and Macron would receive 45%.

Fabien Villedieu, a Sud-Rail labour union spokesman, warned that either the trade unions win or the far right will take advantage of the situation.

Also Read: French President Emmanuel Macron Faces Backlash against Proposed Pension reforms

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