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Paris Radicals Clash with Cops, Set Fires as Macron’s Retirement Age Increase Clears Senate

( Breitbart )

The seventh trade union-organised nationwide protest in France against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the French retirement age saw “angry” confrontations with police in Paris, as the legislation cleared a key hurdle in the Senate.

Following the largest such demonstration of its kind on Tuesday, the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) quickly organised another protest on Saturday across France to keep the pressure up on the government in an attempt to stall President Macron’s central second-term agenda to raise the pension age from 62 to 64 years old, despite overwhelming worker opposition.

According to the trade confederation, over one million people took part in the latest protest — far smaller than the 3.5 million they claimed to have mustered on Tuesday — while the Ministry of the Interior claimed that “only” around 368,000 gathered on Saturday.

Though the drop in numbers was widely seen in France as a disappointment, organisers claimed that the numbers of both protests should be added together to gauge the true public opposition to Macron’s pension plans.

As was the case earlier in the week, the protests once again turned violent in Paris, with the Le Figaro newspaper reporting that the capital saw several hundred ‘anti-fascist’ radicals dressed in all black shouting anti-capitalist slogans and clashing with police, throwing projectiles at officers, and destroying public infrastructure.

In response, police repeatedly deployed tear gas to disperse the leftist agitators and ultimately arrested 32 people.

The protest came as the Senate cleared a key hurdle in passing the pension legislation, which could become law as early as Thursday despite desperate attempts from left-wing lawmakers from socialist, green, and communist groups to derail the legislative process.

Leftist politicians, one by one, came to the podium of the Senate to read the same exact words in the hopes of delaying the actual vote on the legislation, in a move characterised as demonstrating the “mélenchonization” of the left — a reference to the leader of the La France Insoumise (LFI), Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is often compared to socialists Bernie Sanders in the United States or Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom.

“You decided to devitalize the parliamentary function by adding all the procedures offered to you by the regulation and the Constitution. You probably hoped that we would leave the reform in the hands of the coalition right, but the French are not fooled, neither are we: we will not give up, and we will not let them go,” leftist lawmakers repeated one after the other for hours.

However, despite such filibustering tactics, the legislation was ultimately put up for a vote, which the government won by a comfortable margin of 195 votes in favour to 112 against.

Prime Minister Elizbeth Borne, who spearheaded the legislation in the Senate, said: “I am sure that there is a majority in Parliament to vote on this text, which is necessary for our country. At the time of the vote on this project, everyone will take their responsibilities and a majority of parliamentarians will engage behind this text.”

The passing of the pension reforms is not, however, a fait accompli, given that President Macron’s En Marche! party does not hold a majority in the National Assembly, governing from a minority coalition position, and questions remain about how many centre-right members of the Les Républicains will back the government.

The bill will now be sent to a joint committee of National Assembly members and Senators on Wednesday in hopes of coming to an agreement on the text of the legislation.

The bill will then return to the Senate on Thursday morning and finally to the National Assembly in the afternoon for a final vote.

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