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French protests rage after vote on pension reform (VIDEOS)


Violent unrest continues across the country as the parliament failed to depose the government over the debated bill

The French government survived two no-confidence votes on Monday, prompted by the decision by President Emmanuel Macron to push through the controversial pension reform bill without lawmakers’ approval. The botched vote was followed by renewed violent unrest overnight.

The first no-confidence motion, tabled by a small group of centrist opposition lawmakers, garnered significant support in the National Assembly, dominated by Macron’s centrist alliance. The motion missed the threshold of 287 required to pass only by nine votes. The second motion, put forward by the right-wing National Rally party, was backed only by 94 lawmakers.

Despite the failure of the no-confidence motions, some opposition lawmakers, nevertheless, urged the government to resign. “The government is already dead in the eyes of the French, it doesn’t have any legitimacy any more,” a left-wing MP lawmaker Mathilde Panot has said after the vote.

In wake of the no-confidence votes, France’s top police trade union, the SGP Police FO, sounded alarm over the forces’ ability to contain the ongoing unrest. “We’re starting to run out of steam on the police side,” the union said, bemoaning the so-called “punch actions” by the protesters, such as suddenly blocking roads and causing other disruptions.

The protest apparently lived up to the expectations, with assorted chaotic footage emerging overnight. Multiple videos from the French capital city of Paris show barricades erected in the streets, with various objects set on fire.

The police was pictured repeatedly charging the crowds, violently beating individual protesters, apparently without even attempting to detain them.

The unrest is expected to continue across France into the following days, with trade unions calling for a “maximum mobilization” and a “general strike,” expected to kick off as soon as on Tuesday.

Macron opted to push through the long-debated bill, raising the retirement age in France from 62 to 64, without the parliament’s approval last week. The move only further fuelled the ongoing unrest across France, as the measure has been strongly opposed by trade unions with violent protests raging for weeks already.

The bill, however, is still pending a review by the Constitutional Council before it can be signed into law. While the body has powers to dismiss certain articles within a bill, should it deem them to be unconstitutional, the Council rarely actually does so.

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