As the French administration utilized its unique constitutional powers to enact contentious pension reforms without legislative approval, protests and physical altercations broke out in Paris on Thursday.
To clear protesters from the Plaza de la Concorde near the parliament, police deployed water cannons and tear gas.
Demonstrators attacked French police with projectiles and set trash and storefronts on fire.
Following the Place de la Concorde’s evacuation, protests persisted in surrounding smaller streets, where police were also pursuing the aggressive groups.
According to broadcaster BFMTV, 197 persons were detained by the police in Paris for damage.
According to the French publication Le Figaro, protests and altercations also broke out in other cities, including Lyon and Rennes.
On March 23, trade unions have called for additional demonstrations.
Following the government’s cancellation of a planned parliamentary vote, French legislators who oppose the proposal joined the demonstrators.
Controversial Pension Bill Draft by French President
Earlier on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron made the controversial draft bill law without consulting the parliament by using Article 49.3 of the constitution.
The final draft of the measure was scheduled to be brought up for parliamentary approval after being approved by the Senate.
To decide whether to exercise special constitutional powers to evade the parliamentary process, Macron did consult with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, other ministers, and leaders of parliamentary groups of political parties, according to Le Figaro.
After that, Borne went to the parliament to speak and invoke Article 49.3. This infuriated the opposition, who had earlier threatened to bring about a censure vote if such a move were made.
The session was interrupted as lawmakers protesting the reforms stormed out.
They joined demonstrators at the Plaza de la Concorde, including prominent union leaders.
Because the government does not have an absolute majority, Macron feared that parliamentarians would be able to thwart the reforms. For this reason, he decided to deploy the exceptional constitutional authorities.
Unless the opposition requests a resolution of censure by Friday at 1400GMT, his contentious pension reform will be approved.
In 2030, the retirement age will increase from 62 to 64, and a minimum of 43 years of employment will be necessary to qualify for full benefits.
Since the idea was made public last year, there have been numerous protests and strikes around the nation since January.
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