France has prohibited demonstrations opposite the National Assembly parliament building in Paris as protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms continue.
Violence has erupted during the protests, with protesters attempting to set fire to a town hall in Lyon, while slogans such as “Macron is done” and “Power to the people” were seen scrawled across the city’s City Hall.
On Friday, there were fires in several major cities and towns, including Paris, where crowds chanted “Revolution!” and swarmed onto the Place de la Concorde, the largest square in the French capital.
Opponents of the reforms are angry after Macron bypassed a vote in the National Assembly to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 on Thursday.
The French are deeply attached to keeping the official retirement age at 62, which is among the lowest in European countries.
Macron has made the proposed pension changes the key priority of his second term, arguing that reform is needed to make the French economy more competitive and to keep the pension system from diving into deficit. France, like many richer nations, faces lower birth rates and longer life expectancy.
More protests are planned in France over the weekend against the controversial reforms. French commentators have argued that Macron’s bypassing of parliament is an act of weakness that reinforces his image as an arrogant ruler.
Opposition parties have tabled no-confidence votes against Macron’s government. A centrist bloc hoped for a cross-party motion to bring down the government headed by Elisabeth Borne, Macron’s prime minister.
If the expected no-confidence motion passes, which requires approval from more than half of the Assembly, it would be a first since 1962 and would force the government to resign.
The ban on crowds at the Place de la Concorde, implemented on Saturday, was “due to serious risks of disturbances to public order”. Police have made dozens of arrests, and trade unions have mobilised workers to briefly block a Paris ring road.
Macron could reappoint Borne if he chooses, and a new Cabinet would be named. If the motion does not succeed, the pension bill would be considered adopted.