French Protests: Citizens Against the President

By: Ali Sajad Mawlaee

When the protests and riots of July 14, 1789, reached their peak, Louis XVI reportedly exclaimed,What a riot! One of the palace staff then responded,Your Majesty, it is not a rebellion. It is a revolution. This revolution was one of the most significant turning points in human history, as it forever altered the social, political, and economic order of the world. Following the revolution, France adopted the tricolor flag ofred, white, and blue, which has come to symbolize equality and freedom. Since then, the French have been renowned for their rebelliousness and propensity for protest. Demonstrations and gatherings are a common occurrence in France, and the government has even created a special police force to manage protests and riots. Ultimately, the political decisions of the French are made on the street. Now, after weeks of fighting against the new retirement law, the question remains: who will emerge victorious, Emmanuel Macron or the passionate citizens?

In several cities, protesters have set fire to government buildings, and in Paris, municipal employees went on strike, resulting in the city not being cleaned for several days. Labor unions have led millions of people into the streets, calling for a rollback of the pension law. Students have also joined government and private employees in the protest, and even airline companies have taken part, causing disruption to thousands of flights.

President Macron has raised the retirement age from 62 to 64, which economic experts deem logical and correct given France‘s current financial situation. Despite this being one of the lowest retirement ages in Europe, Macron has implemented economic austerity measures in order to combat the economic crisis. As his second term of presidency is coming to an end, this is the best time for him to implement the reforms he desires. However, the success of his reforms is uncertain, and if the protests become widespread, it could lead to a dangerous situation for the country.

Macron had aspirations to not only be the foremost figure in French politics, but also to lead a postMerkel Europe. Unfortunately, his lack of attention to domestic politics has resulted in his downfall, and he is now nearing the end of his presidential term.

It appears that Macron has no intention of halting his reforms in the near future, and if he wishes to persist, he will have to confront his citizens and his nation, something he is wellversed in. French sociologists have suggested that the more Macron stands his ground, the more widespread the riots will become, and the more people will join the demonstration, blaming Macron for all the destruction and violence.

The traditional French political institutions of the Socialist Party and Moderate Republicans are in a state of disrepair. It appears increasingly likely that Marine Le Pen will win the next presidential election. She resides in a realm of economic fantasy and has promised to reduce the retirement age back to 60 for some, a policy that Francois Mitterrand implemented for all when he was president. Although this policy is unrealistic, it appears to be popular among the people of Paris. In other words, Macron‘s opponents are using this issue as a way to criticize him and gain support in the election.

One may ask why protests in France are significant, given that rebellion and protest are part of the nation‘s history and that protests occur daily.

Currently, the situation in France is not confined to the nation alone and can have a farreaching impact on the political landscape of Europe. The conflict in Ukraine has had a significant effect on the economy of Europe, leading to a recession in the economies of European countries. Reports suggest that the French government has been spending more than it has been earning, resulting in a budget deficit. To make up for this expenditure, Macron has raised the retirement age.

Economists have attested to Macron‘s comprehension of France‘s economic issues, and his statements on the matter are valid. Nevertheless, his only accomplishment thus far has been to incite people against himself.