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Paris clashes continue over French pension age rise

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theguardian.com

Riot police and protesters clashed for a second night in Paris as a new demonstration took place against the government’s plans to raise the French state pension age.The growing opposition to the policy, which has resulted in a wave of strikes since the start of the year and rubbish piling up on the streets of the capital, has left President Emmanuel Macron with the gravest challenge to his authority since the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protests of December 2018.Reuters TV broadcast images of teargas being used by police to deal with crowd disorder as protesters gathered in Place de la Concorde, near the National Assembly parliament building.“Macron, resign!” chanted some demonstrators, as they squared up to a line of riot police.Friday night’s trouble followed similar disorder on Thursday, after Macron forced through the contested pension overhaul without a parliamentary vote.

The move raises France’s state pension age by two years to 64, which the government says is essential to ensure the system does not go bust.Unions, and most voters, disagree.

The French are deeply attached to keeping the official retirement age at 62, which is among the lowest in OECD countries.More than eight out of 10 people are unhappy with the government’s decision to bypass a parliamentary vote, and 65% want strikes and protests to continue, a Toluna Harris Interactive poll for RTL radio showed.Going ahead without a vote “is a denial of democracy… a total denial of what has been happening in the streets for several weeks”, said Nathalie Alquier, a 52-year-old psychologist in Paris. “It’s just unbearable.”A broad alliance of France’s main unions said they would continue their mobilisation to try to force a U-turn on the changes.

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