The French government, led by Macron, has put forth a reform that would change the retirement age from 62 to 64. This change has caused mass riots and protests all over France. The protests are so massive they have halted traffic and caused police intervention. Around 400,000 angry citizens flooded the streets of Paris this past Thursday, and the protestors have arranged another march on April 13th. In Paris, police were pelted by projectiles when the protest reached La Rotonde, a restaurant patronized by Macron during the 2017 presidential election that he went on to win. Some parts of the awning of the chic venue were set on fire before officers extinguished the flames. Police detained at least 20 people in Paris.
The protests have become so violent and out of control that people are now starting to stay away from them. The Interior Ministry on Thursday deployed some 11,500 police officers nationwide, including 4,200 in Paris, to try to prevent more of the clashes and moments of vandalism that have marred previous protests. In France, a country that prides itself on being a pioneer in human rights, the right to protest is fundamental — and experts say violent factions from other parts of Europe travel to Paris to incite instability and unrest.
Ten previous rounds of nationwide strikes and protests since January have failed to get Macron to change course, and there was no sign from his government that Thursday’s 11th round of upheaval would make a change either. These protests have closed the Eiffel Tower and other tourist attractions. The citizens of France are angry, and they are not budging on this protest. With each side standing firm, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.