Protesters clash with police in Paris after Macron passes controversial pensions bill without going to a vote

Image of French President Macron. Credit: Victor Joly/

After French President Emmanual Macron invoked ‘Article 49.3’ to pass the controversial pension reforms bill without going to a vote, protesters took to the streets of Paris and clashed with riot police.


Violence flared in the streets of the French capital of Paris this afternoon, Thursday, March 16, as an estimated 7,000 angry protesters gathered in response to the controversial pensions bill being passed. Earlier in the day, President Emmanuel Macron pushed the legislation through without even letting it go to a vote. Instead, he invoked the special powers of ‘article 49.3’ to bypass the vote.

Just minutes before the bill was scheduled to go to a vote, Macron made his decision during a cabinet meeting held at the presidential palace. The President was fully aware that if the legislation went to a vote that he did not have a sufficient majority in the assembly to secure a win, as reported by Sky News.

This new bill will see the retirement age in France rise from 62 to 64 years. When the action was taken, chaotic scenes erupted in the French Parliament. Left-wing members of the national assembly (the lower house) were heard singing lines from the national anthem as prime minister Elisabeth Borne announced that a vote would not be taken.

The French senate (upper house) adopted the bill by 193 votes to 114 earlier this Thursday. It came as no surprise because the reforms had the backing of the conservative majority. Macron argued that as the age and life expectancy of the population increased then it was essential to pass the reforms to stop the pensions system from going bust.

“This bill has no parliamentary legitimacy, no legitimacy from the street”, insisted the leader of the left-wing party France Insoumise (France Unbowed), Jean-Luc Melenchon, speaking at a protest outside parliament. The pension reforms were also opposed by trade unions and, according to opinion polls, by the vast majority of the French public.

There have been continual clashes between protestors and the police in several cities across France leading up to today’s vote. Olivier Faure, the leader of the Socialist Party, earlier said that he believed passing such a bill could unleash ‘uncontrollable anger in the country.

Socialist Party leader, Olivier Faure, earlier said the bill could unleash “uncontrollable anger” following weeks of rolling strikes and protests that have affected power production, blocked some shipments from refineries, and seen litter pile up on Paris streets

An unplanned rally on the Place de la Concorde turned nasty as riot police clashed with the crowds. Tear gas was fired in an attempt to quell the crowd. Police officers charged at the protesters with one Reuters reporter at the scene saying how cobbles were thrown at the cops as they advanced, with water cannon also deployed.

Trouble is reported to have also broken out in other French cities this evening. Sotiri Dimpinoudis reported that multiple cars and scooters had been set on fire in Paris. Piles of uncollected rubbish have also been set alight in some parts of the city.


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Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at