(Paris) The mobilization in France against the pension reform wanted by President Emmanuel Macron fell again Thursday, for the twelfth national day of demonstrations, on the eve of the verdict of the Constitutional Council on this very unpopular text.

After almost three months of protest, and while the authorities expected between 400,000 and 600,000 demonstrators, they finally counted 380,000, compared with the 570,000 listed on April 6 and 740,000 on March 28.

The powerful CGT union has identified “more than 1.5 million” people on the streets, against “nearly two million” and “more than two million” during the two previous deadlines.

In Paris, the prefecture reported 42,000 protesters, against 400,000 for the CGT.

Large discrepancies in figures between unions and authorities are frequent during demonstrations in France.

The shortness of breath is thus confirmed for the third consecutive week, the number of demonstrators decreasing everywhere in the country. In particular in Rennes (west), where from 6,500 to 15,000 people according to sources marched, but also in Clermont-Ferrand (center, 6,000 to 10,000).

“Contrary to what the government hopes, the movement is far from over,” said CGT General Secretary Sophie Binet, when the left, via socialist Olivier Faure, assured that no “abdication” will was to wait.

As almost every time, clashes broke out with the police, especially in Nantes (west), where they responded with tear gas canisters to the projectiles thrown by demonstrators, but also in Lyon (center-east) or Rennes (west).

Similar scenes occurred in the capital, where strikers also briefly invaded the headquarters of luxury giant LVMH, in the chic Champs-Élysées district, with smoke bombs and whistles.

In Paris, the prefecture reported at the start of the evening a total of 44 arrests and 10 injured among the police.

In Aurillac (center), “effigies of the President of the Republic” were thrown into a fire at the end of the demonstration, according to the prefecture which denounces “unacceptable facts”.

The Constitutional Council, housed in the Palais Royal, in the heart of Paris, has been placed under close surveillance, while it has already been the scene of a brief blockage attempt on Thursday morning.

The prefect of police issued an order prohibiting from Thursday 12 p.m. (Eastern time) to Saturday 2 a.m. (Eastern time) any demonstration near the institution.

According to a note from territorial intelligence consulted by AFP, 131 actions are expected Friday evening in reaction to the decision of the Council, which must announce whether it validates or censures, partially or totally, the reform which provides in particular for the decline of the statutory retirement age from 62 to 64.

On the strike side, the disruptions are much less significant than at the start of the mobilization in air, rail and metro transport. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was again closed for the 10th time in 12 days of mobilization.

Refinery employees also mobilized, without however significantly disrupting site activity.

In the capital, a new renewable strike by garbage collectors, who had not picked up the trash for three weeks, began Thursday at the call of the CGT.

For opponents, this twelfth step “is a kind of last stand”, summarizes Martine Girard in Marseille. “Even if there is little hope, we want to show that we are not fooled”, explains this 50-year-old teacher, who recognizes that there are “a lot fewer people mobilized because financially it becomes hard “.

After a passage in force of the law on March 20, the government having used a constitutional provision allowing the adoption of a text without a vote, the decision of the Council is the last step before a promulgation and entry into force of the text, which President Macron wishes by the end of the year.

It seems unlikely that the Council, responsible for verifying the conformity of the laws with the Constitution, will cancel the entire reform. But it could prune the law substantially and strengthen the arguments of the inter-union in favor of a withdrawal or a suspension of the reform.

The Council must also decide on the admissibility of a referendum of shared initiative requested by the left-wing opposition, a procedure which must collect 4.87 million signatures to allow the organization of a consultation on the text.

From the Netherlands, Mr. Macron on Wednesday reached out to the unions, with whom he has very strained relations, announcing that he would propose a meeting with them “in a spirit of harmony” after the Council’s decision.

France is one of the European countries where the retirement age is the lowest, without the systems being completely comparable.

Opponents of the reform consider it “unfair”, especially for women and employees in arduous jobs.

The executive justifies the project by the need to respond to the financial deterioration of pension funds and the aging of the population.