April 13. 2024. 5:20

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Protests, violent clashes mount ahead of French no-confidence vote


France was marked by a series of protests and violent clashes this weekend, with some targeting parliamentarians after President Emmanuel Macron’s government bypassed parliament to adopt the much-reviled pension reform – a move that will have parties vote on two no-confidence motions in parliament Monday.

On Saturday, many marched without permission in Paris, Lyon, Marseille and other French cities. Following clashes and violence with the police, the Interior Ministry recorded 169 arrests, including 122 in the capital.

Some protestors went as far as to target elected representatives who favour Macron’s pension reform plans. The office of right-wing Les Républicains leader Eric Ciotti in Nice was robbed on Saturday in a move he says was aimed at “putting pressure” on him to vote in favour of Monday’s no-confidence motion to bring down the government.

On Sunday, hundreds of protestors gathered in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, and Lille Sunday evening.

At the same time, others continued to let cars pass through tolls for free on the A1 and A13 motorways during the day, while rubbish collectors in Paris continued to strike for the fourteenth day on Sunday.

The shutdown of France’s largest refinery, the TotalEnergies site in Gonfreville-L’Orcher (Seine-Maritime), was also announced by the country’s main union CGT on Saturday.

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire have condemned the protests and violence. “In a state of law, force must remain in the law, never in violence,” he told France 3 on Sunday.

On his government bypassing parliament, he said: “I think that when you have such an essential reform, (…) you don’t flip a coin. We make sure it passes.”

If the crossparty motion and the one filed by Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National fail to overthrow Macron’s government following the vote on Monday, tensions between the French and the government will likely reach new heights as unions have announced further protests for the coming week, including a major national protest for Thursday.

(Hugo Struna | EURACTIV.fr)