Categories
Audio Posts and Shared Links Audio Sources - Full Text Articles

French protesters target Paris restaurant favoured by Macron

2023-04-06T14:46:10Z

Clashes erupted in Paris on Thursday next to a Left Bank brasserie popular with President Emmanuel Macron, during a day of nationwide protests against a pension bill that he has pushed through despite widespread opposition.

La Rotonde, where the awning was briefly on fire as protesters threw stones, bottles and paint at police, is well known in France for hosting a celebratory dinner by Macron as he led the first round of the 2017 presidential election.

Protests have gathered huge crowds since January against the flagship reform of Macron’s second term, which lifts the retirement age by two years to 64.

But the rallies and strikes have also coalesced widespread anger against Macron, who is often the target of banners and chants.

“Strike, blockade, Macron walk away!” protesters chanted in the western city of Rennes, where police fired tear gas at protesters who threw projectiles at them and set bins on fire.

The protests have otherwise been largely peaceful, though violence has broken out on the fringes in cities across France.

Polls show a wide majority of French oppose the pension legislation and the government’s decision to push it through parliament without a vote. But a source close to Macron said that was not what mattered.

“If the role of a president of the republic is to make decisions according to public opinion, there is no need to have elections,” the source said. “Being president is to assume choices that may be unpopular at a given time.”

Labour groups have vowed to dig in their heels after talks with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Wednesday, which lasted just an hour, failed to break the stalemate.

Union leaders and protesters said the only way out of the crisis was for the legislation to be scrapped, an option which Borne and Macron have repeatedly rejected.

“There is no other solution than withdrawing the reform,” the new leader of the hardline CGT union, Sophie Binet, said at the start of the Paris rally.

Thursday’s marches – the 11th nationwide day of protests in the past three months – could provide an indication of whether the drawn-out rallies are losing steam or gaining momentum.

The previous day of demonstrations on March 28 drew smaller crowds, according to the Interior Ministry, with 740,000 people protesting across the country compared with a record 1.28 million seen on March 7.

Trains were less heavily disrupted than in previous days of strikes against the reform.

The civil aviation authority asked airlines to cut flights by 20% in cities like Bordeaux and Marseille, but not at Paris airports like in previous strikes since mid-January.

Some 20% of primary school teachers are also expected to join the strike, local media quoted the Snuipp-FSU union as saying, down from previous walkouts.

The latest wave of demonstrations represents the most serious challenge to the authority of Macron since the “Yellow Vest” revolt four years ago.

A key date will be April 14, when the Constitutional Council delivers its verdict on the pension bill. Constitutional experts say it is unlikely to strike the legislation down, which the government likely hopes will help weaken protests.

“Mobilisation will continue, one way or another … It’s a long distance race,” the CGT’s Binet said.

Related Galleries:

A protester shouts slogan during a demonstration as part of the eleventh day of nationwide strikes and protests against French government’s pension reform, in Rennes, France, April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

French CFDT labour union member Marylise Leon and newly-elected French CGT labour union leader Sophie Binet attend a demonstration as part of the eleventh day of nationwide strikes and protests against French government’s pension reform, in Paris, France, April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

Masked protesters react amid tear gas during clashes at a demonstration as part of the eleventh day of nationwide strikes and protests against French government’s pension reform, in Rennes, France, April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Masked protesters react amid tear gas during clashes at a demonstration as part of the eleventh day of nationwide strikes and protests against French government’s pension reform, in Rennes, France, April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Masked protesters react amid tear gas during clashes at a demonstration as part of the eleventh day of nationwide strikes and protests against French government’s pension reform, in Rennes, France, April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Students hold a banner during a demonstration as part of the eleventh day of nationwide strikes and protests against French government’s pension reform, in Rennes, France, April 6, 2023. The slogan reads “Strike, blockage, Macron get out”. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Protesters hold a banner which reads “no to the pension reform” during a demonstration as part of the eleventh day of nationwide strikes and protests against French government’s pension reform, in Calais, France, April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

A protester holds a placard which reads “the water boils at 100 degrees, the people at 49.3” during a demonstration as part of the eleventh day of nationwide strikes and protests against French government’s pension reform, in Calais, France, April 6, 2023. The 49.3 is a special clause in the French Constitution, used by French government to push the pensions reform bill through the National Assembly without a vote by lawmakers. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and inter-unions representatives pose prior to talks at Hotel de Matignon in Paris, France April 5, 2023 after a pensions reform was pushed through parliament by the French government without a vote, using the article 49.3 of the constitution. Bertrand Guay/Pool via REUTERS

A banner reading “64, it’s no” is hung by French CGT labour union members to protest against French government’s pension reform, on the top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, April 5, 2023. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

Laurent Berger, French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT) union’s general secretary and Sophie Binet, newly elected CGT trade union general secretary, sit prior to talks between Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and inter-unions representatives at Hotel de Matignon in Paris, France April 5, 2023 after a pensions reform was pushed through parliament by the French government without a vote, using the article 49.3 of the constitution. Bertrand Guay/Pool via REUTERS

Newly-elected French CGT labour union leader Sophie Binet and Laurent Berger, Secretary General of French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT) leave after a meeting on pension reform with French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne at the Hotel Matignon in Paris, France, April 5, 2023. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

Protesters attend a demonstration during the ninth day of nationwide strikes and protests against French government’s pension reform, in Nantes, France, March 23, 2023. The slogan reads “for a boundless democracy” in reference to French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

A banner reading “64, it’s no” is hung by French CGT labour union members to protest against French government’s pension reform, on the top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, April 5, 2023. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier
WP Radio
WP Radio
OFFLINE LIVE