French opposition submits no confidence motion to topple Macron's government

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By Euronews
Burning detritus after pension reform protests in Paris
Burning detritus after pension reform protests in Paris   -  Copyright  LOIC VENANCE/AFP or licensors

French opposition parties have submitted a no-confidence motion in an attempt to topple Emmanuel Macron's government over his pension reform.

Fresh protests broke out in cities across France on Friday as people continue to voice their anger after President Emanuel Macron forced through his controversial pension reforms. 

His government is now facing a no-confidence in parliament.

In Paris, transport was disrupted and in Rennes a large demonstration is taking place in the centre of the city.

On Friday, 310 people were arrested, mainly in Paris, after a night of protests, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told radio station RTL.

In Place de la Concorde in Paris on Thursday people set fire to building equipment in the square. Meanwhile, there were demonstrations in Rennes, Nantes, Lyon and Marseille. 

The unrest follows Macron's use of Article 49.3 to force through reforms of French pension laws which would see the retirement age raised to 64.

In the National Assembly, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne was met with jeers when she invoked the controversial article

"We cannot gamble on the future of our pensions," she said. "The reform is necessary.”

On Thursday, violence broke out at a Paris demonstration

No confidence vote for French government

Marine Le Pen, of the far-right National Rally party, said they would file a no-confidence motion in the government.

Communist politician Fabien Roussel said: “The mobilisation will continue. This reform must be suspended.”

A no-confidence motion, which is expected to be submitted on Friday, needs to be approved by more than half of the Assembly. If it were to be successful the government would have to resign. 

If the no-confidence motion does not pass, the pension bill would be considered adopted.

The last no-confidence motion to succeed was in 1962.

Protester in ParisEMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP or licensors

PM Élisabeth Borne said in an interview on Thursday night on French TV station TF1 that she was not angry when addressing disrespectful lawmakers but “very shocked.”

“Certain (opposition lawmakers) want chaos, at the Assembly and in the streets,” she said.

Article 49.3  is a controversial power that French governments can use to force through legislation.

It has been used 100 times in 60 years - most often by governments that lack a majority in parliament, such as socialist Michel Rocard's government in the 1980s.

Protester in ParisEMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP or licensors

French unions have announced another day of national strikes on 23 March.

Banners in Paris on Thursday night read: “They say capitalism. We say fight." 

“If rights aren’t defended, they’ll be trampled.”

Nicolas Durand, a 33-years-old actor told the AP news agency: “If we don’t speak up now then all our rights that the French have fought for will be lost.

“Macron is out of touch, and in bed with the rich. It’s easy for the people in government to say work harder, but their lives have been easy.”