- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Protests broke out across France on Tuesday, with teachers and rail workers joining garbage collectors and everyday citizens in nationwide demonstrations against French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to raise the retirement age.

Roughly 900,000 protesters are expected to take part in 240 rallies throughout France on Tuesday — with 100,000 protesters expected in Paris alone — according to CNN. It’s the 10th time since January that the French have protested en masse.

The network confirmed that smoke bombs were set off at the Biarritz airport on France’s southwestern coast, causing the transportation hub to be evacuated.

Protesters also set fire to a bank and targeted a courthouse in Nantes in the western part of France, according to a French journalist on the scene.

The threat of violence in Tuesday’s protests prompted Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin to deploy 13,000 police officers throughout the country, with half of them in Paris.

“They come to destroy, to injure and to kill police officers and gendarmes,” the minister said Monday when discussing the policing, according to The Associated Press. “Their goals have nothing to do with the pension reform. Their goals are to destabilize our republican institutions and bring blood and fire down on France.”

Mr. Macron used a constitutional article to enact his legislation without a vote.

That move was upheld after two no-confidence votes went in favor of the government. Thus, the retirement age for sanitation workers increased from 57 to 59 and for all other pensioners from 62 to 64.

The French president has argued that delaying the retirement age will make the country more financially stable.

The move is highly unpopular. One poll found that only 30% of respondents felt Mr. Macron is a “good president of the republic.”

Over 8,000 tons of trash have littered the streets of Paris since garbage collectors went on strike over three weeks ago.

About 17% of the workers for France’s state-owned railway company were on strike by midday Tuesday. Nearly half of those striking were train conductors.

And 8% of the country’s teachers went on strike, though that number is down from a strike last week that saw over 20% of teachers join the protests.

Small towns are also participating in the demonstrations. Montargis saw about 2,000 people — a fifth of the population — protesting in their town that’s 70 miles south of Paris.

• This story was based in part on wire service reports.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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