France: the government, targeted by two motions of censure, in the midst of a political crisis

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France: the government, targeted by two motions of censure, in the midst of a political crisis

Clashes between demonstrators and police at Place de la Concorde in Paris.

Two motions of censure were tabled Friday against the French government, plunged into a political crisis after its forced passage on the pension reform, which amplified social anger and triggered scuffles in the heart of Paris.

Several thousand people gathered in the evening at Place de la Concorde, a few hundred meters from the National Assembly.

A bonfire was lit by protesters, and the mood grew tense as night fell, with police charging into the crowd, according to reporters from AFP.

Several hundred people confronted the police in small groups, with bottle throwing and fireworks, while the police responded with tear gas, trying to evacuate the place , in the rain.

There were 61 arrests around 9:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. GMT), according to the police headquarters.

In Strasbourg (east), it was on Place Kléber that 1600 protesters met. We too will go through in force, chanted the demonstrators. The prefecture reported damage in the city center, but no arrests.

A policeman drags a protester to Place de la Concorde.

A thousand people marched in the center of Lille (north), and a procession of a few hundred dispersed smoothly in Bordeaux (south-west).

Motions of no confidence are expected to be considered in the National Assembly on Monday from 4:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. GMT), parliamentary sources told AFP, subject to validation just before the session.

The deputies of the centrist independent parliamentary group Liot announced to the Assembly the tabling of a cross-partisan motion of censure of the government, co-signed by elected representatives of Nupes ( radical left).

The National Rally (far right) also filed a motion of censure on Friday, criticizing an unfair and unnecessary reform.

Mass protests have continued in the country since the tabling of the bill on increasing the retirement age by the Macron government. (File photo)

These steps are responses to the decision of President Emmanuel Macron to resort Thursday to the weapon of Article 49.3 of the Constitution, allowing the adoption of a text without a vote in the the Assembly, unless a motion of censure were to overthrow the government.

This choice on this very unpopular pension reform, against which many French people have mobilized since January 19, is the apogee of a denial of democracy that is unacceptable in its constancy and its contempt for our institutions and our social bodies, is it written in particular in the text of Liot's motion.

On Friday, the general secretary of the reformist union CFDT, Laurent Berger, called on the French president to withdraw the pension reform.

“Putting out the fire is not about changing prime minister or changing government is about withdrawing reform. »

— Laurent Berger, secretary general of the reformist trade union CFDT

The motion of censure tabled by the parliamentary group Liot is the one that could potentially cause the most problems for the government through its transpartisan side.< /p>

To bring down the government, a motion of censure must obtain an absolute majority in the Assembly, i.e. 287 votes. This would require in particular that around thirty right-wing deputies Les Républicains (out of 61) vote for the motion of the Liot group.

Protesters block a bridge in the city of Toulouse. (File photo)

The French government has chosen to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 in response to the financial deterioration of pension funds and the aging of the population.

France is one of the European countries where the legal retirement age is the lowest, without the pension systems being completely comparable.

This measure of the postponement of the legal retirement age crystallizes the anger, against the backdrop of renewable strikes. The various opinion polls show that the majority of French people are hostile to it, even if the number of demonstrators in the streets and of strikers has stagnated or declined over time.

The recourse to 49.3 is almost unanimously considered a setback for Emmanuel Macron, who has bet a lot of his political credit on this key reform of his second five-year term.

Pension crisis: his fault, headlined the newspaper Liberation (left) next to a portrait of Emmanuel Macron.

The intersyndicale has called for local union rallies this weekend and for a ninth major day of strikes and demonstrations on Thursday March 23.

A Parisian woman places a garbage bag on top of containers of uncollected household rubbish that have been piling up since garbage collectors went on strike to protest the French government's proposed pension reform.

A thorny consequence of the renewable strikes by garbage collectors – who underline the arduous nature of their work – the health situation in Paris, the world capital of tourism, is worsening: the bar of 10,000 tonnes of uncollected waste has been reached Friday at midday, according to the estimate of the town hall, the twelfth day of the strike.

Regarding the state of rail traffic, the four representative unions of the national company SNCF called on Friday to maintain the strike started on March 7 and to act massively on March 23 to oppose the pension reform.

La Directorate General of Civil Aviation has asked airlines to cancel Monday 30% of their flights at Paris-Orly and 20% at Marseille-Provence (south-east), due to the strike movement of air traffic controllers against the pension reform.

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