PARIS (AFP) – People took to the streets across France on Saturday after President Emmanuel Macron imposed an unpopular pension overhaul without a Parliament vote.
Macron’s government on Thursday invoked a controversial executive power to force through the bill by decree, which is legal according to the constitution.
The move has caused outrage among the political class as well as angry protests on the streets, presenting the 45-year-old leader with one of his biggest challenges less than a year into his second and final mandate.
The president has made no public comments since the bill to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 was forced through.
A source within his circle however told AFP on Saturday evening that he was “following developments”.
Police on Saturday banned gatherings on a key Paris square opposite Parliament after two nights of unrest at the site. But thousands of protesters rallied in another part of the capital, some erecting barricades in the street, setting rubbish bins on fire and smashing advertising boards, an AFP journalist saw. Security forces charged at the demonstrators and fired tear gas and water cannon at Place d’Italie.
A police source said officers had arrested 81 people at or near the location.
There were protests in other towns and cities around the country on Saturday after regional unions called for a weekend of demonstrations. Ariane Laget, 36, was among around 200 people demonstrating in the small southern town of Lodeve.
“We’re fed up,” she said. “We feel like we’re being trampled on, and no one is listening.”
Thousands took to the streets in the western city of Nantes. Some protesters lobbed bottles at members of the security forces who retaliated with tear gas.