Protests erupt across France as anger over pension reform grows

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AFP/The Local France - [email protected]
Protests erupt across France as anger over pension reform grows
A damaged bus shelter during a demonstration in Dijon, following the failed votes of no-confidence in France's PM (Photo by ARNAUD FINISTRE / AFP)

Thousands demonstrated across France on Monday night in protest of pension reform, after the government survived two votes of no-confidence. Police said over 250 arrests were made amid clashes between groups of demonstrators and riot police.


Protests erupted across France on Monday night after the French prime minister and her government survived two votes of no-confidence following a move to push pension reform through parliament without a vote in the Assemblée Nationale.

The first vote, brought by the centrist Liot coalition, managed to garner 278 votes, just nine short of the necessary 287 MPs needed to topple the government. The second vote, brought by the far-right, National Rally party, was overwhelmingly rejected.

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

Following the votes, clashes between police and protesters took place in several French cities.


French police arrested 287 people throughout France throughout Monday night, 234 of which were in the capital, according to Le Parisien.

In Paris, a procession of a few hundred people met at the behest of opposition leaders near the Place Vauban after the results of the votes were announced. As police led protesters away, smaller groups scattered, with some lighting fires to garbage cans and damaging billboards, namely near the Saint-Lazare train station.

More clashes between police and protesters occurred near the Bastille area later in the evening and continued until after midnight with fires being lit throughout nearby streets. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters with several officers reported injured.

Several videos circulated on social media, leading political leaders and others to call into question law enforcement's use of force.

Member of the left-wing France Unbowed party, Antoine Léaument shared a video on Twitter on Monday of people being hit by batons near Chatelet. The lawmaker denounced the video calling President Emmanuel Macron "the shame of Europe" and judging the images "worthy of the worst authoritarian regimes".

Other French cities, such as Lille, Dijon, Rennes, Nantes and Strasbourg, experienced similarly tense scenes.

A protester runs with an umbrella to protect himself from
tear gas during a demonstration in Dijon on Monday night (Photo by ARNAUD FINISTRE / AFP)

In Strasbourg, large crowds were recorded and some protesters reportedly smashed the windows of a department store, according to AFP correspondents.


Opposition leaders also spoke out after the two votes of no-confidence failed. Leader of the France Unbowed party (LFI), Jean-Luc Mélenchon called for a "people's demonstration" of no-confidence in the government.

Mélenchon said during a press briefing on Monday that he hoped the "people's censure of the government would be expressed across the country, in all places and in all circumstances, and that this will allow us to have the bill withdrawn".

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron's office said on Tuesday that he would appear on the TF1 television channel at 1pm on Wednesday to answer questions from journalists and broadcasters, after having largely remained silent on the pension changes in the weeks leading up to the stormy parliament session where it was pushed through last week.

Union leaders have also called for another day of mobilisation Thursday, March 23rd. You can find more information about upcoming strike action in France HERE.


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