Interest protest in Bordeaux
In the dispute over the French pension reform, the opposition submitted two motions of no confidence on Friday. “Voting on this motion means the way out of the crisis,” said Bertrand Pancher, head of the liberal Liot group, in Paris.
In the dispute over the French pension reform, the opposition has submitted two motions of no confidence. “Voting on this motion means the way out of the crisis,” said the leader of the Liot parliamentary group, Bertrand Pancher, on Friday in Paris. The right-wing populist group RN also submitted a motion of no confidence. Meanwhile, angry protests against the pension reform and government crackdown continued to spread.
The government on Thursday invoked a constitutional article that would allow the reform to pass without a vote if the government survives subsequent no-confidence motions. The National Assembly is expected to vote on the motions next Monday.
If an absolute majority of MPs vote in favour, the pension reform will be defeated and the government will have to resign. Then President Emmanuel Macron could appoint a new prime minister or call new elections.
A majority for the no-confidence motion is considered unlikely as conservative Republicans are expected to back the government. If there is no absolute majority for a motion of no confidence, the pension reform will finally be passed.
The government’s actions have fueled the protests in France that have been going on for weeks. On Friday morning, demonstrators temporarily blocked the Paris city motorway and train stations in Toulouse and Bordeaux. In the evening, several thousand people demonstrated on the Place de la Concorde in an increasingly heated mood after the atmosphere had been mostly peaceful during the day.
Several hundred demonstrators threw bottles and firecrackers at police officers. The police used tear gas to clear the square. According to the police headquarters, 61 people were arrested. Demonstrations also took place in Lyon, Strasbourg and Lille. The number of arrests as a result of riots in several cities on Thursday evening rose to 310.
The CGT union announced the closure of a refinery in Normandy over the weekend. So far, the refineries have been partially blocked, but have continued to produce.
In Paris, the garbage collectors’ strike is also leading to growing heaps of garbage and a stench in the city. By Friday noon, the piles of uncollected garbage had grown to 10,000 tons, according to the city administration. Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who supports the protests, continues to refuse to oblige garbage collectors to work. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin had called on them to do so in vain.
Meanwhile, members of the government tried to limit the damage in interviews. Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt emphasized that the application of the constitutional article means “no failure”. “There is a draft law and if the motions of no confidence are rejected, then it will come into force.”
Government spokesman Olivier Véran was confident that the government would not be overthrown. “We are called upon to continue to govern,” he stressed.
In government circles it is expected that the motions of no confidence will be rejected and that the protests will gradually subside before the Easter holidays. But it is also not excluded that the protest movement will become more radical and last longer, it said.
The pension reform provides for a gradual increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64 years. In addition, the minimum pension is to be raised to EUR 1,200 for a full contribution period and the employment of senior citizens is to be promoted.