A crowd of angry protesters took to Place de la Concorde in Paris on Friday, chanting “We beheaded Louis XVI, Macron we can start again!”, as they burned an effigy of the French President. A day after Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne invoked a special constitutional power to skirt a vote in the chaotic lower chamber, lawmakers on the right and left filed no-confidence motions to be voted on Monday.
At Place de la Concorde, a festive protest by several thousand, with chants, dancing and a huge bonfire, degenerated into a scene echoing the night before.
Riot police charged and threw tear gas to empty the huge square across from the National Assembly after troublemakers climbed scaffolding on a renovation site, arming themselves with wood.
They lobbed fireworks and paving stones at police in a standoff.
On Thursday night, security forces charged and used water cannons to evacuate the area, and small groups then set street fires in chic neighbourhoods nearby. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told radio station RTL that 310 people were arrested overnight, most of them in Paris.
Mostly small, scattered protests were held in cities around France, from a march in Bordeaux to a rally in Toulouse. Port officers in Calais temporarily stopped ferries from crossing the English Channel to Dover.
Some university campuses in Paris were blocked and protesters occupied a high-traffic ring road around the French capital.
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Paris garbage collectors extended their strike for a 12th day, with piles of foul-smelling rubbish growing daily in the French capital. Striking sanitation workers continued to block Europe’s largest incineration site and two other sites that treat Paris garbage.
Some yellow vest activists, who mounted formidable protests against Macron’s economic policies during his first term, were among those who relayed Friday’s Paris protest on social media. Police say that “radicalised yellow vests” are among troublemakers at protest marches.
Trade unions organising the opposition urged demonstrators to remain peaceful during more strikes and marches in the days ahead.
They have called on people to leave schools, factories, refineries and other workplaces to force Macron to abandon his plan to make the French to work two more years, until 64, before receiving a full pension.
Macron took a calculated risk ordering Borne to invoke a special constitutional power that she had used 10 times before without triggering such an outpouring of anger.
If the no-confidence votes fail, the bill becomes law. If a majority agrees, it would spell the end of the retirement reform plan and force the government to resign, although Macron could always reappoint Borne to name the new Cabinet.