Over 450 arrests made over violent clashes in France pension protests
Paris, Mar 24 (EFE).- Some 457 people were arrested and 441 police officers injured in clashes that erupted during mass protests across France against the president’s unpopular pension reforms, the government said Friday.
Interior minister Gérald Darmanin blamed the violent incidents in Thursday night’s demonstrations on left-wing protesters.
“The extreme left wants to attack the Republic, and we have to send a message of condemnation,” he told CNEWS.
He added that the 12,000 police officers deployed to the over 300 marches that took place across France on Thursday were there to protect those taking part.
The French government estimates that a million people turned out to the rallies while the union organizers put that figure at 3.5 million.
The minister said 1,500 “vandals” took part in altercations in Paris, throwing Molotov, cobble stones and metal bars at the police.
The pension reform, which the government adopted by constitutional decree in order to avoid a vote in parliament, raises the retirement age in France from 62 to 64.
President Emmanuel Macron, who is in Brussels for a European Union summit, has acknowledged that the reforms are unpopular but insists they are necessary to head off France’s growing budget deficit, which is expected to reach 12.5 billion euros by 2030.
In a defiant interview on Wednesday, Macron said: “Do they think I want this reform? No.”
He pointed out that the French government has faced union opposition every time that it has tried to introduce pension reforms, and insisted his cabinet would “assume” the consequences of the unpopular changes.
“Between the long-term polls and the general interest of the country, I choose the general interest of the country. And if that has consequences, I accept them,” Macron said. EFE