Police in Paris pepper spray protesters as Macron faces no confidence motions

World

Police in Paris pepper sprayed young protesters near the Sorbonne University as two motions of no confidence were tabled against French President Emmanuel Macron.

One motion of no confidence came from Marine Le Pen’s party Rassemblement National and was signed by 88 cross-party MPs.

Another group of independent politicians put forward a second motion which was signed by 91 MPs from five parliamentary groups.

The political developments come as increasingly tense protests swept through France today.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in a second day of nationwide demonstrations against Macron’s decision to force a bill through parliament to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a vote.

Protesters blocked traffic, bin collections stopped and students walked out of lectures after Mr Macron ordered Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to use a special constitutional power known as Article 49.3 to force through the controversial reform in the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament.

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Demonstrators holds banners as they gather on the place de la Concorde near the National Assembly, with the Eiffel tower in the background, to protest after French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne delivered a speech to announce the use of the article 49.3, a special clause in the French Constitution, to push the pensions reform bill through the lower house of parliament without a vote by lawmakers, in Paris, France, March 16, 2023. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
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Demonstrators near the National Assembly

This morning, Paris’s peripherique – the main ring road around the capital – was disrupted at almost 200 points during peak rush hour, according to French media.

The French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, said on Friday that 310 people were arrested in protests yesterday, 258 of those in Paris.

Mr Macron’s risky strategy has infuriated unions, opposition politicians and many citizens.

Opposition parties were expected to start the process for a no-confidence vote in the government later on Friday.

The vote is likely to take place next week.

Members of parliament of the left hold placards and sing the Marseillaise, French national anthem, as French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne arrives to deliver a speech on pensions reform bill at the National Assembly in Paris, France, March 16, 2023. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
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Members of parliament hold placards and sing the Marseillaise, the French national anthem

The controversial reform has prompted nationwide strikes since January but the increasingly chaotic political situation has sparked immense anger.

Yellow Vest demonstrators, or the Gilets Jaunes – the protest group that has brought France to a standstill at several points in recent years – are also expected to take to the streets later.

Outside the largest waste incinerator in Europe, rubbish collectors insisted they would intensify the strikes to force the government to reverse course.

A woman walks past piles of garbage bags in a street as overflowing garbage has not been collected due to a strike of garbage collectors against French government pension reform, in Paris, France, March 17, 2023. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
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Streets are overflowing with rubbish. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

The collectors had voted to continue their strike action until at least 20 March, France Info reported.

More than 9,000 tonnes of waste has not been collected in Paris since the start of the strike.

“I call, and the CGT union calls, for a massive movement and for workers to go on strike massively,” said CGT union representative Régis Vieceli.

“That’s the only thing that will get them to back down. We need to hit them financially. When they start seeing the financial impact, they’ll go and cry on Macron’s shoulder.”

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