The French government is trying to defuse the protest

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The French government is trying to defuse the protest

Ludovic Marin Agence France-Presse Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne says she has set two objectives: “appease the country in the face of these tensions and speed up responses to the expectations of the French” .

A week after the forceps adoption of the pension reform, the French government is trying to regain control by proclaiming its desire for “appeasement”, without succeeding for the moment in defusing increasingly acute tensions .

This persistence of the mobilization against the reform is part of a context of social protest in Western Europe in the face of inflation, particularly in Germany and the United Kingdom.

Monday, a transport strike movement of an extremely rare scale for Germany has begun in this country, where the unions are demanding wage increases, affecting airports, rail, maritime freight and motorway companies.

In France, on the eve of a tenth day of mobilization against the reform which raises the legal retirement age from 62 to 64, and of which President Emmanuel Macron assumes “unpopularity”, his Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne repeats over and over again her desire to renew the dialogue.

“We need to calm things down”, Ms. Borne told AFP on Sunday, setting herself two objectives: “to appease the country in the face of these tensions and speed up responses to the expectations of the French people”.

To do this, it opens Monday a vast sequence of consultations spread over three weeks, with parliamentarians, political parties, representatives of local elected officials and social partners if they wish.

This “ action plan” will first be detailed at midday to the Head of State and then to the majority executives, including the heads of parliamentary groups, party leaders and some members of government.

The Prime Minister is also due to meet the committee chairmen at the National Assembly on Monday, then will continue on Tuesday with the presidents of the Senate Gérard Larcher and of the Assembly Yaël Braun-Pivet.

To the unions, from which she dismisses the request for withdrawal or, at the very least, suspension of the reform, Ms. Borne proposes to “go back to work” on various sites, from hardship to the employment of seniors, through retraining.

< h2 class="h2-intertitle">Radicalization

The secretary general of France's leading trade union, the CFDT, Laurent Berger, reiterated his position on Monday, calling on the government to make a “very strong move on pensions”, specifying that he would not accept Elisabeth's “outstretched hand”. Borne only if the reform was “set aside”.

“Do we need appeasement? Obviously, and there is a very simple way to obtain it, it is to withdraw the text, “said the leader of La France insoumise (LFI), the first left-wing opposition party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, on Sunday. also calling on the departure of Mrs. Borne.

The previous day of mobilization on March 23, the first since the adoption of the text without a vote, according to a decried constitutional provision, resulted in a resurgence in attendance but also in an upsurge in clashes on the sidelines of the processions, with 457 arrests and 441 police officers and gendarmes injured.

The terrain of the clashes moved to Sainte-Soline on Saturday, where a demonstration against controversial agricultural water supplies left dozens injured on both sides, with a protester still on Monday between life and death.

The controversy also swells around an “excessive use of force”, in the words of the Council of Europe.

Government spokesman Olivier Véran denounced Monday the attitude of Mr. Mélenchon and his party, which he described as “annuitants of anger”.

Green MP Sandrine Rousseau on Monday referred responsibility for the violence in the demonstrations, which she condemned, to President Macron and his Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, wondering about their possible desire to “seek the incident” by deploying “a debauchery of means”.

On the ground, in the Paris region, the circulation of suburban trains and metros promises to be “very disrupted” on Tuesday, according to the public company RATP.

In Paris, where garbage collectors have been on strike for more than 20 days, the volume of uncollected waste was down on Sunday with 7,828 tonnes still outstanding.

The General Management of civil aviation (DGAC) has also asked companies to cancel 20% of their flights at Paris-Orly, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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