French Senate passes unpopular pension reforms despite mass protests

Protests in Paris over proposed pension reforms.
(Image credit: Samuel Boivin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The French Senate on Saturday adopted a controversial reform to the country's pension system that would raise France's retirement age from 62 to 64. The motion passed even as thousands of people continued taking to the streets in opposition to the move.

The Senate passed the reforms by a margin of 195 to 112. The reforms will now undergo one last committee draft, and will then be moved to the full French Parliament for a final vote to become law.

Following the vote, French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne tweeted that the move was a "decisive step to bring about a reform that will ensure the future of our pensions." However, this was not a sentiment that seemed to be shared by the public, as France entered its seventh-straight day of massive protests and labor strikes in opposition to the pension change.

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French newspaper Le Monde reported that police tallied 48,000 protesters in Paris, and 360,000 total across France on Saturday. However, the outlet noted that these figures were "far fewer than the more than one million people who marched in cities and towns" last week. Despite this, the protests were expected to continue Sunday, and likely into next week.

While the protests have been mostly peaceful, small bouts of violence were seen. Uncollected trash is also piling up in numerous cities due to strikes among garbage companies, Le Monde reported.

The pension reforms have been a key part of French President Emmanuel Macron's agenda. Despite polls showing that a majority of French people do not want the retirement age to change, Macron has stood by the reforms. The Guardian noted that Macron has "twice turned down urgent calls by unions to meet with him in a last-ditch attempt to get him to change his mind," further angering protesters.

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