FURIOUS French rioters are marching on Paris and burning things in their path after a thoughtless remark from a close aide to Macron.
“The only scenario where [Macron] will let go is if Paris is on fire,” Macronist Gilles Savary told news outlet L’OPINION this week as thousands took to the streets to wreak havoc in response to the French leader’s pension reforms.
In Paris and across France, riot police are deploying tear gas and water cannons to hold back the crowds and over 300 protestors have been arrested nationwide.
The outrage comes after French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision on Thursday to bypass parliament in order to lug his highly contested pension reforms over the finish line.
The French leader using an emergency presidential decree to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 as he faced losing a key ballot at the National Assembly.
Savary, a French politician and supporter of Macron, continued his argument stating: “Emmanuel Macron seems to have locked himself in a logic of madness.”
The French president is now facing serous heat from opposition parties who are calling for a no confidence vote as protests have sent the country into a meltdown.
Shocking footage shows thick plumes of smoke rising from raging infernos and debris strewn across roads across the capital and other cities.
Macron’s official presidential home in the Élysée became dangerous close to the firing line, although police have confirmed that there was no intrusion.
One witness said: “A group of rioters got away from the police and started marching towards the Élysée Palace.
“They wanted to get to Macron, to tell him what they think of his new measures.”
The worst of the trouble was around the nearby Place de la Concorde, the largest square in Paris, which is just across the River Seine from the National Assembly.
Thousands of riot police moved to clear it at around 8.30pm last night with shields and batons, prompting the protesters to disappear down side streets.
Even after the rally in Paris was dispersed, some protesters created fires and caused damage to shop fronts in side streets in their rampage.
Macron's pension reforms
EMMANUEL Macron pushed his controversial pension reform through parliament without a vote.
The French leader used an emergency presidential decree that enabled the government to pass legislation without a vote to hike the retirement age from 62 to 64.
Macron used the special constitutional power as he faced losing a ballot to get the reform through.
The pension reforms have sparked weeks of strikes and protests in the country.
As well as raising the retirement age by two years, it also requires an extra year of contributions to the national pension scheme.
Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne defended the move stating that the reforms are an essential method of sustaining pension system. “We cannot gamble on the future our pensions, this reform is necessary.”
Schoolteacher Laure Cartelier said: “I’m outraged by what’s happening. I feel like I’m being cheated as a citizen.
“In a democracy, it should have happened through a vote.”
On the same night in the southern city of Marseille, rioters looted shops, while protestors clashed with security forces in the cities of Lyon, Nantes and Rennes.
The scenes continued throughout Friday as protestors in Paris trieds to block a key highway around the capital and in Bordeaux protestors tried to obstruct the main train station.
Trade unions and political analysts had warned that adopting the legislation without a vote – by invoking article 49.3 of the constitution – risked radicalising opponents and would undercut the law’s democratic legitimacy.
“It’s a total failure for the government,” far-right leader Marine Le Pen told reporters on Thursday.
“From the beginning the government fooled itself into thinking it had a majority.”
On the other side of the battle, hard-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon called Macron’s reforms a “spectacular failure”.
Outside parliament, Melenchon told protestors: “This bill has no parliamentary legitimacy, no legitimacy from the street.”
According to polls, two-thirds of French people oppose the pension overhaul.
“When a president has no majority in the country, no majority in the National Assembly, he must withdraw his bill,” added Socialist Party chief Olivier Faure.
Macron sought to justify his decision in a closed-door cabinet meeting on Thursday morning stating: “You cannot play with the future of the country,” an attendee reported.
The French president now faces motions for votes of no confidence in parliament, while the nationwide protests have shown no signs of cooling down.