(Paris) Very much in the background during the whole dispute, Emmanuel Macron will address the French on Wednesday to try to defuse a highly inflammable situation, but does not envisage a radical decision to get out of the crisis caused by the forceps adoption of pension reform.
Neither dissolution of Parliament, nor reshuffle of the government, nor referendum on pensions: participants in a meeting of the presidential camp at the Élysée on Tuesday morning indicated that the head of state was not considering any of these options, but had asked his troops to make “proposals” for “a change of method and agenda of reforms”.
The French president is due to speak on Wednesday at midday in a live interview on the TF1 and France 2 channels, while tension remains very high in the country. He must continue his political consultations all day Tuesday, however suspended in the morning to go and greet ex-hostage Olivier Dubois at the airport, kidnapped in Mali in April 2021 and back in France.
If the social protest, framed by the unions for two months, remained peaceful, the signs of radicalization have been increasing for several days in France.
On Monday evening, overturned and burned trash cans, barricades, throwing projectiles at the police, and smoke bombs marked some of the demonstrations that erupted spontaneously across France after the adoption of the reform.
Thanks to the decried procedure of recourse to Article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows a text to be adopted without a vote unless the government is censured, the reform and its flagship measure, the decline in the legal age of departure retired from 62 to 64, were indeed officially adopted on Monday.
This parliamentary epilogue, which was played out by a vote close to 9 votes, much tighter than expected – with in particular 19 Republican deputies (LR, traditional right) out of 61 contributing their votes to the transpartisan censure motion –, n However, this did not reduce the pressure on the executive. On the contrary.
“The fight continues,” chanted all the leaders of the left-wing Nupes coalition.
Opponents of the reform are counting in particular on appeals to the Constitutional Council, also seized by Elisabeth Borne, and have drawn up a request for a referendum of shared initiative (RIP), the admissibility of which the Elders must examine.
Some also want to continue the fight in the street, like the leader of the radical left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who called for “popular censorship”, “in any place in any circumstance”.
“Nothing undermines the determination of the workers,” warned the powerful CGT union, while CFDT general secretary Laurent Berger called for mobilization for the next day of strikes and demonstrations scheduled for Thursday.
Mr. Berger also expressed concern about the “anger” and “violence” that could be expressed as a result of the adoption of a law that had “no majority in the National Assembly”.
Several demonstrations, often enamelled with violence, still took place in several cities on Monday evening. Nearly 300 people were arrested, the vast majority in Paris, where trash cans and bicycles were set on fire, according to a police source.
Firefighters intervened 240 times, according to this source.
In Donges (west), the police intervened overnight from Monday to Tuesday to unblock an oil terminal, occupied for a week by strikers.
In Amiens (north), the office of the right-wing Les Républicains party was vandalized.
And on Tuesday several strikes continued, particularly in the oil sector. The government has announced the requisitioning of personnel at the Fos-sur-Mer oil depot (south-east) in the face of the blockage.
Throughout the day on Monday, the anger was illustrated by new rallies, pickets, blocked roads, disrupted transport or even dry gas stations for the first time since the start of the social conflict.