Unrest in France


Art Credits to Helen Cai!

Jenny Gao '25

Protests in France have escalated as of lately as more than 1.3 million protesters gather on the streets to fight against a detested presidential decision. Demonstrators, young and old, have all come together to fight against a bill that raises the retirement age from 62 to 64. 

On March 16th, 2023, French President Emmanuel Macron forced his infamous pension reform through parliament, utilizing an exclusive constitutional power of his prime minister to pass the bill without a single vote (Chrisafis). The bill changed the pension age from 62 to 64, sparking riots from all professions throughout France. Teachers, factory workers, pilots, train conductors, bin collectors, and more are among the million of French citizens who gather on the streets. A former supermarket cashier explained that “[these protests are] about workers on the streets fighting for their rights” (Chrisafis). 

Furthermore, the protests are growing increasingly violent; police officers have reportedly used tear gas against crowds and injured numerous protesters with batons. The aggressiveness from the police has raised another controversy: policing tactics. With countless injured and wounded from clashes between protesters and police, the IGPN (the France’s internal affairs unit for police) began investigations into allegations against police. Worldwide, many organizations are also responding to the police brutality during the protests; the Council of Europe stated that protesters and reporters should be protected from police violence and erratic arrests.

However, the police are not the only people in France becoming more vicious. Throughout cities across France, from Rennes to Lyon, protesters have broken shop windows and bank fronts with garbage spewed over the streets (Corbet and Ganley). Fires have been lit for demonstrations on Concorde square, demonstrating how unpopular the pension is. Radical leftist groups have been blamed for the damage, causing more destruction throughout the nation. 

As President Macron is shunned for his decision-making with the pension reform, France continues to remain in chaos. The protesters display no signs of giving in, and Macron does not either. Both sides remain strong, but one shall soon give in to the other side’s demands and changes.

Works Cited

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/28/strikes-protests-france-macron-pensions-clashes

[2] https://apnews.com/article/france-retirement-age-strikes-macron-garbage-07455d88d10bf7ae623043e4d05090de