French protests: Macron's government survives two motions of no confidence over pension reforms

·2-min read

The French government has survived two motions of no confidence after pushing through plans to raise the country's pension age.

Violent protests erupted in Paris on Friday after President Emmanuel Macron's administration bypassed the lower house of parliament with unpopular proposals to raise the retirement age by two years to 64.

Centrist MPs and those from the far-right National Rally had both tabled motions of no confidence in the government.

The centrist group's vote was first in the National Assembly, with 278 MPs voting in favour - higher than expected but narrowly short of the 287 needed to get the motion through.

MPs from the hard-left La France Insoumise (LFI, France Unbowed) shouted "resign!" at Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and brandished placards that read: "We'll meet in the streets," following the results of the first vote.

"Only nine votes are missing to bring both the government down and its reform down," hard-left MP Mathilde Panot said.

"The government is already dead in the eyes of the French, it doesn't have any legitimacy any more."

The far-right no confidence motion, which other opposition parties had previously stated that they would not back, secured just 94 votes in favour.

It comes after protesters clashed with police on the streets of Paris on Friday, with officers making dozens of arrests during the unrest at Place de la Concorde.

Demonstrations also occurred in other French cities, including Bordeaux, Toulon and Strasbourg, in recent days.

On Monday, ahead of the no-confidence votes, protesters on a motorway near the western city of Rennes scuffled with police as they put up burning barricades to block traffic.

Hundreds of mainly young protesters also gathered by Paris's Les Invalides, the final resting place of Napoleon, to demonstrate against the reforms.

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Speaking about the protests, Christine Lassalle, a member of FO, one of France's main unions, said: "The real violence is not in the street, it's in the reform."

Though Mr Macron's government has successfully navigated the two no confidence votes, trade unions have promised to intensify their strike action over the plans.

It leaves the French president facing the most dangerous challenge to his authority since the "Yellow Vest" uprising over four years ago.

A ninth nationwide day of strikes and protests is scheduled on Thursday.

Opposition parties will also challenge the bill in the Constitutional Council, which could decide to strike down some or all of it - if it considers it breaches the constitution.