WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!
- French citizens took to the streets in protests against the government’s plan to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64.
- The protests turned violent at times, with thousands of people attending and some throwing stones and fireworks at police.
- The government deployed 12,000 security forces to control the protests, and the president urged calm among protesters.
French citizens took to the streets on Thursday to protest the government’s plan to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64. The protests, which began in January, have grown in size and intensity, with hundreds of thousands of people attending demonstrations across the country.
According to the national trade union General Confederation of Labor, 3.5 million French citizens attended the protests on Thursday, while officials estimated that 1.08 million people took to the streets.
The protests disrupted travel at regional train stations and airports, and tourist hot spots like the Eiffel Tower and the Versailles Palace closed down for the day. The demonstrations turned violent at times, with protesters throwing stones and fireworks at police, who responded with teargas and batons.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that there were “many injured police officers,” and he vowed to punish those responsible for the violence.
French President Emmanuel Macron has refused to back down on the retirement age increase, despite the protests. He said on Wednesday that he wants the reform finalized by the end of the year and urged calm among protesters, referencing violent demonstrations in other Western countries.
Macron has also faced criticism for using a special constitutional power to pass the pension reform without a vote by the National Assembly.
The retirement age increase is part of Macron’s plan to keep pensions funded in the face of an aging population and rising costs. However, many French citizens oppose the reform, arguing that it will force people to work longer and reduce their quality of life in retirement.
The protests are the latest example of widespread public unrest in France in recent years, as citizens have taken to the streets to protest a range of issues, from economic inequality to climate change.