More than a million demonstrators marched all over France last week to protest the government’s decision to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64.
As the French government’s controversial pension reform bill continues to be debated in parliament, one of its vital elements has sparked protests across the country. It has brought young people into the fold, with students marching on the streets in Paris and Lyon last week.
“To date, these huge mobilizations led by a united inter-union have received no response from the government. This can not go on, ” stated the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT), in their latest press release.
“The nation is divided into those who want the system to hold and those who want to eradicate the system,” said Prof. Gilles Saint-Paul, a professor from L’Ecole Normale Supérieure. He wrote an academic paper about the lack of democracy in France.
“The silence of the President of the Republic constitutes a serious democratic problem which inevitably leads to a situation which could become explosive,” states CFDT.
This is not the first time that people express their frustrations and general unhappiness in France.
Last year in November, hundreds of thousands of people marched all over France. The yellow vest protesters, or “gilets jaunes” as they are known in French, protested the increase in fuel tax and ask for a political referendum.
Many also voiced their anger at President Emmanuel Macron and his government, accusing them of being out of touch with the needs of ordinary citizens.
“The broad popular opinion is not reflected in the party. There is no real democracy in France,” said Prof. Gilles Saint-Paul.
The protests quickly turned violent. The French government initially responded by attempting to crack down on the protests. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds, and hundreds of protesters were arrested. However, this only seemed to fuel the protesters’ anger and determination. As the protests continued, the government was forced to backtrack on its proposed fuel tax.
The movement has gained international attention, with protesters in other countries expressing solidarity with their French counterparts. Some have also criticized the violence and disruption caused by the protests, arguing that they are damaging to the economy and the country’s reputation.
But in today’s case, the government has yet to make any comments.
“The silence of the President of the Republic constitutes a serious democratic problem which inevitably leads to a situation which could become explosive,” stated CFDT.
The opposite views of the nations prevail the most among young adults.
“The election works as every people can choose their candidate so I don’t agree with that. Everyone has their choice,” said Tea Sroger.
Tea, an 18-years old student that just started university in the Netherlands, said in an interview with The Groningen Observer that she heavily disagrees with the populist view.
“Yea, I feel politically represented because there is a rise of extremes on both sides and our president is in the middle, I think it’s the best for now because the world is changing,” told Tea.
She laughingly claims that “French people like to go on strikes.”
The national trauma of yearly protests that are meant to make a change under the regime of an unstable media environment ignites French people to fight for fewer inequalities.
Tea further explained that one of the main reasons for young people to have a different mentality regarding the political situation of France is misrepresentation in the media.
“I am not blaming the media for this. We have different television channels that run according to their beliefs. It fits what they want to tell. But none will tell the same thing.”