Macron had campaigned in his 2022 re-election that he would reform the country's pension system in order to prevent a deficit and to put more money into the retirement system. He angered citizens, however, by invoking a special constitutional power to avoid a parliamentary vote on his pension proposal and raise the age from 62 to 64.
His cabinet has argued that the current system is not sustainable with the growing number of retirees. According to Labor minister Olivier Dussopt, the pensions deficit will reach more than $13 billion annually by 2027 without immediate action.
“If we don’t do [the reforms] today, we will have to do much more brutal measures in the future," Budget Minister Gabriel Attal said in a television interview on Friday.
On Thursday, Macron made the controversial move of resorting to Article 49.3 of the French Constitution to force through the controversial pension reform bill that will raise the age of retirement from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary lower house vote.
French Pres. Macron evoked a special constitutional provision to forcefully enact the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a vote. The DICTATOR HAS ARRIVED, and with that, Macron is TOAST. Massive protests are tearing through Paris: pic.twitter.com/J7FyNFxGwi— Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) March 17, 2023
Protests across several French cities spread Thursday evening following the Macron government's risky move and has spurred violent protests and clashes with police to continue into the weekend.
Mass protest in Paris - where is the media coverage? pic.twitter.com/pSyOeFgqxG— Glenn Diesen (@Glenn_Diesen) March 17, 2023
Union leaders in France are threatening to continue protests for several more days. The police are reportedly using water cannons and tear gas against the demonstrators who are allegedly setting cars on fire and littering the streets of Paris with garbage.
Further protests are planned throughout France including the cities of Marseille and Nantes.