Protests across France as the country’s Constitutional Council rules on the legitimacy of Macron’s controversial pension reform.
After three months of political and social crisis in France, all eyes are on the country’s Constitutional Council ahead of its ruling on whether President Emmanuel Macron’s contested plan to raise the retirement age is constitutional.
If the Constitutional Council approves the reform, the bill raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 can enter into force.
Macron said last month he wanted pension reform to be implemented by the end of the year. Some political observers suggest he could try to appease critics with a government reshuffle in the coming weeks or months.
But the Constitutional Council could also reject the bill, fully or partially.
Ahead of the Council's decision, which is scheduled to be announced around 6:00 pm local time, Macron met with Senegalese soldiers and visited the construction site of Notre Dame de Paris.
Protests across France
Meanwhile, unions have vowed to continue their strikes and protests until the withdrawal of the pension plan.
Protesters marched around France on Thursday and planned scattered demonstrations Friday in hopes of pressuring the body to strike it down.
On Thursday, activists dumped bags of garbage outside the council's columned façade in the morning. Later, another crowd holding flares faced off with a large contingent of riot police that rushed to protect the building.
Paris police banned all gatherings outside the council from Thursday evening through Saturday morning, in an attempt to reduce pressure on the council members as they make their decision.
Police said some 380,000 people took part in the protests across France Thursday. The number was down from recent weeks, but unions still managed to mobilize sizable crowds. The demonstrations were largely peaceful, though dozens of injuries were reported among police and protesters.
Unions had been hoping for a strong turnout Thursday to pressure both the government and the members of the Constitutional Council
And while union leaders have said the body's decisions would be respected, they have also vowed to continue protest actions in an attempt to get Macron to simply withdraw the measure.
“As long as this reform isn’t withdrawn, the mobilisation will continue in one form or another,” Sophie Binet, head of the leftist CGT union, said Thursday.
The leader of the moderate CFDT, Laurent Berger, warned that “there will be repercussions” if the Constitutional Council gives the French government a green light.