'Two fingers to the French people' - what the papers said about Macron's pension decision

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 17 Mar, 2023 Updated Fri 17 Mar 2023 12:13 CEST
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A customer buying a magazine at a newspapers kiosk in France. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

France's ongoing pension debacle made headlines around the world, with newspapers describing Macron's decision to force through the bill without a vote as a 'power grab' and 'two fingers to the people' - here's a look at how French and foreign media reported the crisis.


On Thursday afternoon, President Emmanuel Macron's government used the Article 49.3 tool to push through his controversial pension reform without giving MPs a vote - a move that sparked fury in France, some violent protests and the announcement of more strikes.

READ MORE: Calendar: The latest French pension strike dates to remember

Here is how French media responded;

The Communist-linked French daily newspaper L'Humanité showed an image of French president Emmanuel Macron and prime minister Elisabeth Borne with the caption "the arm of honour to the people" - that's not as nice as it sounds as the expression le bras d'honneur means sticking two fingers up at someone. 


READ MORE: French Expression of the Day: Le bras d’honneur

The centre-left Libération newspaper featured a close-up of the French president with the uncompromising headline - Pensions crisis - his fault.


Paris-based daily Le Parisien goes with 'The government plays it safe' (by avoiding a vote on the pensions bill, which it risked losing).


While Le Monde, often referred to as 'the paper of record' goes for a straight headline saying 'The recourse to Article 49.3 accentuates the political crisis'.


The Catholic paper La Croix, made their front page an image of the Assembeé nationale (the French parliament) with the headline "The 49.3 ignites the Assembly", referring to the controversial Article 49.3 used to ram the legislation through parliament.

Regional newspaper La Voix du Nord, also used an image of parliament with the headline "The [Article] 49.3, and then the fever".

In the south west, the regional newspaper SudOuest used a similar image from France's parliament, with the words "The reform, whatever it costs" laid over top the picture, with the phrase quoi qu'il en coute referring to Macron's pledge to protect the French people from the financial effect of the pandemic "whatever it costs".

The front page of regional newspaper SudOuest (Screenshot from, photo credit The Local)

To the south, along the border with Spain, regional newspaper La République des Pyrénées used an image of protest crowds for its front page, with the words "Macron at forced march". The headline is a play on words for the previous name of the Macronist political party, En Marche.

The front page of regional newspaper La Republique des Pyrenees (Screenshot from, photo credit The Local)

But the move didn't just make headlines in France, media around Europe and beyond have also reported on the use of Article 49.3 to force through the bill, and the protests that followed.


In neighbouring Belgium, the front page of French language newspaper Le Soir showed France's parliament with the words "The power grab" (le coup de force). 

The front page of Belgian newspaper Le Soir (Screenshot from

The anglophone world has also been watching the political events unfolding in France with interest. The New York Times used a picture from the French parliament as their main image, with the headline Macro decree alters pensions as rage builds.

The front page of American newspaper The New York Times (Screenshot from

In the UK, both the Telegraph and the Guardian featured French pension reform on their front pages.

The front page of UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph (Screenshot from, photo credit The Local)



The Local 2023/03/17 12:13

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