French rioters threaten Macron’s home after retirement age raise is forced through
French rioters threatened the home of president Emmanuel Macron after his government pushed through a contested pension overhaul without a vote.
Mr Macron bypassed parliament to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, sparking outrage. Thousands have taken to the streets across France to protest the move, setting fire to property and fighting the police as clashes continued for a second day on Friday.
The French premier now faces two motions of no confidence, signed by scores of MPs across multiple political parties.
“A group of rioters got away from the police and started marching towards the Elysee Palace,” said one witness of the tensions on Thursday. “They wanted to get to Macron, to tell him what they think of his new measures.”
A police spokesperson said there was no intrusion at the Elysee, the official home of President Macron and his wife.
Police responded to the protests by firing tear gas and fires were extinguished on Place de la Concorde before officers ringed in protesters with shields and batons.
Demonstrations are ongoing with protesters blocking a key highway around the French capital on Friday. Around 200 briefly obstructed traffic on the ring road outside the capital.
More than 300 people have been arrested nationwide, including 258 in Paris, interior minister Gerald Darmanin told RTL radio.
Stores were looted during protests in Marseille while clashes between demonstrators and security forces also erupted in the western cities of Nantes and Rennes and Lyon in the southeast, according to AFP correspondents.
Prime minister Elisabeth Borne told MPs that she would invoke article 49.3 of the constitution to skip a vote on the reform measures in order to prevent the “risk” of “175 hours of parliamentary debate come to nothing”.
The session was suspended for two minutes after left-wing legislators singing the national anthem prevented Ms Borne from speaking. Some held placards reading “No to 64 years”. When the session resumed her speech was largely drowned out by the same boos and chants.
The French government says raising the retirement age is essential to ensure the pension system does not go bust.
“We cannot gamble on the future of our pensions, this reform is necessary,” Ms Borne said.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the hard-left France Insoumise (France Unbowed) called the move “a spectacular failure”.
“This bill has no parliamentary legitimacy, no legitimacy from the street,” he said at a protest rally outside parliament.
Opinion polls show a vast majority of voters oppose the pension reform, as do trade unions, who say there are other ways to balance the accounts, including taxing the wealthy more.
Opposition parties have said they would request a vote of no confidence in the government, which will be voted on in the coming days. However, it is unlikely to pass as most conservative lawmakers would not be expected to back it – unless a surprise alliance of MPs from all sides is formed.