Protests in Paris as Macron forces through controversial pension reform

Police in Paris have clashed with protesters after the French government decided to force through pension reforms without a vote in parliament, the BBC reports.

Crowds converged on Place de la Concorde in response to raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

The plans had sparked two months of heated political debate and strikes.

Finally, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne invoked article 49:3 of the constitution – allowing the government to avoid a vote in the Assembly.

The decision was taken minutes before MPs were scheduled to vote on the controversial bill, because there was no guarantee of winning a majority.

The move caused fury among opposition politicians. Many jeered the prime minister, sang La Marseillaise and held up signs of protest in parliament.

A no-confidence motion will be filed against President Emmanuel Macron’s government, far-right opposition leader Marine Le Pen has suggested.

Leader of left-wing party La France Insoumise (LFI), Mathilde Panot, tweeted that Mr Macron had plunged the country into a government crisis, without parliamentary or popular legitimacy.

Thousands of people came out on the streets of Paris and other French cities to reject the move, singing the national anthem and waving trade union flags.

Some protesters clashed with police as evening fell. A fire was lit in the middle of the Place de la Concorde and police with shields and batons fired tear gas and moved to clear the square.

By nightfall, 120 people had been arrested, Paris police told AFP news agency.

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