World

The boulevards of central Paris were once again choking up with the fog of tear gas.

But even through the haze it’s clear this is becoming a significant crisis for President Macron’s government.

Tens of thousands of people marched on the streets as part of rolling demonstrations organised by the unions.

But they soon deteriorated into running battles with the police.

France pension protests: Paris descends into violence – latest

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Protests have turned violent

It may have only been the hardcore that took part in the clashes, but the fury is a reflection of anger that is nationwide.

Some of the protesters hurled bottles, whilst others sprayed anti-government graffiti on walls, as chants of “everyone hates the police” rippled through the crowds.

More on Emmanuel Macron

President Macron, of course, knew he was in for a turbulent ride with his pension reforms – he’s made the policy a legacy issue of his second term in office.

But by raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, he’s touched a nerve with most of the working population and set himself up for what could be a prolonged fight.

At least 70% of the country is against the legislation, which was forced through using special constitutional powers, bypassing parliament.

The government says reform is necessary.

With an ageing population, it’s claimed the present system is unaffordable but those economic arguments fall on deaf ears on the streets.

Read more:
Demonstrator in critical condition and 16 officers injured
Macron criticised after taking off expensive watch

King’s state visit to France would have prompted ‘detestable’ scenes

Demonstrators claim Mr Macron is out of touch and only cares about the rich, and someone with such monarchical zeal has no place in the fifth republic.

What happens next is hard to predict.

The Elysée Palace will be hoping the wave of protests fades but it’s also possible the chaos of protests and strike gains even greater momentum and carries on for months.

What’s happening is also a significant distraction for France and the European Union.

At a time when its focus should be on the cost of living, Ukraine and the climate emergency, the republic is fighting with itself over how long it should work.

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