Thousands of people took to the streets of France on Saturday for the third night in a row to protest against the pension reform enacted by President Emmanuel Macron.
The reform was enacted on Thursday when Macron used a clause in France’s constitution to change the state retirement age from 62 to 64, without a vote by the country’s parliament.
Now Macron faces the biggest challenge to his authority since the 2018 yellow vest protestsforcing him to change his stance on a carbon tax that was driving up fuel prices.
“Macron, resign!” protesters chanted on Saturday. “Macron is going to collapse, we are going to win,” shouted others at the Place d’Italie in southern Paris.
Riot police responded with tear gas and confronted some protesters as they set garbage bins on fire.
Local governments decided on Saturday to ban protests in central Paris’ Place de la Concorde and the adjacent Champs-Elysees. Police arrested 61 people in the area on Thursday and Friday nights.
Earlier Saturday, videos of a student-activist-led collective called “Revolución Permanente” circulated on social media. seize the Forum des Halles shopping mall.
They chanted “Paris, stand up, stand up” as they walked waving banners and calling for a general strike.
An alliance of France’s main unions decided to mobilize in support of the effort, scheduling a national strike scheduled for Thursday.
The city’s rubbish has already begun piling up on the streets as the capital’s garbage workers have joined the strike, increasing pressure on Macron to reverse his decision.
So far, the government has been adamant that pension reform is essential to ensure the longevity of the program, and Macron has not publicly responded to the unrest.