Protests in France are reportedly "out of hand."March 23, 2023
Police clashed with over a million demonstrators opposed to President Macron's pension reform in France on Thursday, with over 150 police officers and gendarmes injured. Tens of thousands of workers went on strike and protesters blocked public transportation, schools and oil refineries. Videos showed heavily armored officers clubbing unarmed demonstrators and barricades burning in the streets of Paris. 172 people were detained for questioning about the "looting and arson" in Paris, and 190 fires had been set in the French capital. The interior minister blamed the "extreme left" and "black bloc" anarchists for the worst of the violence.
The outpouring of popular discontent was triggered by President Macron's announcement that the retirement age will be raised from 62 to 64, starting next year. The Elysee Palace imposed the change without consulting lawmakers, leading to protesters calling for Macron to resign. Macron said his only mistake was failing to convince people of the decision's merits, but insisted he would not back down, even if that meant having to "shoulder unpopularity." He also warned that if the malcontents use violence, it is no longer democracy. Despite the protests, Macron easily won re-election in 2022, defeating Marine Le Pen by a 17-point margin. The runoff election saw the lowest turnout since 1969.