Fri, 31 Mar 2023

Paris [France], March 17 (ANI): France President Emmanuel Macron pushed the unpopular pension reform scheme which proposed to raise the retirement age for most workers to 64 from 62 without a vote of lawmakers in the National Assembly on Thursday, defying mass protests throughout the country, The New York Times reported.

Macron's decision prompted raucous protests inside the assembly chamber, where Opposition lawmakers sang the French national anthem and banged on their desks.

Meanwhile, on the streets, protesters pledged to continue their fight against Macron's proposal.

The upper house of Parliament, the Senate, approved the Bill on Thursday morning. But in the National Assembly, the lower and more powerful house, where Macron's party and its allies hold only a slim majority, did not have enough votes to pass the Bill.

After this decision, the National Assembly in Australia is expected to call for a no-confidence vote, within a few days, most likely on Monday. If it succeeds, it would bring down Macron's prime minister and the cabinet, and the pension Bill would be rejected. But that is unlikely, according to The New York Times.

The decision to use Article 49.3 of the French Constitution, which enables a government to push a bill through the National Assembly without a vote, gives Opposition lawmakers 24 hours to file a no-confidence motion against the government, although it is rare for such motions to succeed.

Macron said France's pension system is in "an increasingly precarious state" because retirees are living longer and their numbers are growing faster than those of today's workers, whose payroll taxes finance the system. But his plan has angered a society that reveres retirement and a generous balance between work and leisure. In polls, roughly two-thirds of French people say they disapprove of the plan.

After Macron proposed the pension reform scheme, many angry protesters lit small fires and clashed with police clad in riot gear at the Place de la Concorde in central Paris on Thursday.

Several thousand people had spontaneously gathered there earlier in the day, after the government's decision was announced, to demonstrate across the Seine River from the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, as per the report in The New York Times.

While the gathering was mostly peaceful throughout the afternoon, the situation took a more violent turn as night fell over the French capital and the police moved in to clear out the Place de la Concorde, a major square in Paris with a famed obelisk in the middle, not far from luxury hotels, the Tuileries gardens and the US Embassy.

Protesters with covered faces threw cobblestones torn from the pavement at the police, who responded with tear gas and water cannons as they slowly pushed the diminishing crowds into surrounding streets. Some protesters set fire to wood construction fencing and heaps of trash, which has gone uncollected in many parts of Paris over the past week because of an ongoing strike by garbage workers, The New York Times reported. (ANI)

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