Macron's drive to reform France's pensions system has ignited the months-long protests. Facing a potential lack of votes to push the reforms through the National Assembly, France's lower house, Macron utilized a loophole within the French constitution that allowed him to enact the pension reform bill without a vote in parliament.
Along with raising the retirement age, the pension reform law will also require people to work for 43 years to receive a full pension.
While anger over Macron's plan to raise the retirement age was already palpable and had already resulted in massive protests, the very contentious move led to the French people being even angrier at the president and his government. (Related: Angry French protesters shift focus from pension fiasco to Macron himself – "do you know the guillotine?")
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has been regularly holding discussions with some of the larger protest groups, including the nation's most prominent trade unions. But the most recent round of negotiations collapsed on Wednesday, April 5, leading to Thursday's massive protest action, with trade unions vowing to keep up the pressure on the government and calling for another round of protests and labor strikes.
The Ministry of the Interior said around 570,000 people took part in Thursday's protests, while spokespeople from trade unions said the figure was closer to two million. Around eight percent of teachers in the country took part in the one-day strike, according to the Ministry of Education.
Most of the more rowdy parts of the protest actions on Thursday occurred in Paris, with small groups of violent protesters clad in all black being fired upon with tear gas by the police as the larger, trade union-led marches descended upon the capital's main thoroughfares. Police said around 57,000 protesters took to the streets in Paris, while the unions said there were no fewer than 400,000 people.
Some of the more notable parts of the protests had a small fire engulfing the awning of the well-known La Rotonde restaurant, which is well-known for receiving Macron's people. The president celebrated his 2017 election victory there.
"The president's position is a huge problem," said Claire Cazin, a member of the General Confederation of Labor, one of the country's main trade union confederations and an employee at the Aeroports de Paris. She said momentum would continue, and the union has already discussed further action at the country's airports. "There will be a crescendo."
Unions have called for another day of nationwide strikes on April 13, one day before the Constitutional Court is expected to review the pension reform law. The court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of both the legislation and how Borne and Macron pushed it through.
Notably, protest groups and political parties are hoping the court could rule the bill unconstitutional due to how it was added to a budget bill to limit the number of days it could be debated in the National Assembly down to 50 and, in the event of a lack of votes, to be able to pass it without a vote.
Political parties are also asking the court to approve an application to put the pension reform bill up for a national referendum instead, where it is expected to fail massively due to its lack of popular support.
Learn more about the pension reform protests in France at Pensions.news.
Watch this clip from "The American Journal" on InfoWars as host Harrison Smith discusses the ongoing protests in France.