Do protests work: French protests against pension reform


Alyssa Wu

Over a million french citizens took to the streets after new pension reforms were announced.

Alyssa Wu, Staff Writer

Over the past few weeks, millions of French protesters have taken to the streets in response to the new pension reforms.

“There have been protests going on since January, when President Macron wanted to push the retirement reform through, raising the retirement age from 62 to 64,” said Manja Benadjaound, AV French teacher.

French citizens are especially upset about the situation because part of Macron’s campaign was promising to not change the retirement age.

“During his presidential campaign, he said on TV live that he will not change the retirement age, there was lots of discussion about it, and he promised not to change it. Now he’s doing the opposite even though a lot of people are against it,” said Benadjaound

Furthermore, the bill was pushed through without any votes.

“They pushed the bill without any votes to back it up. The parliament did not vote this proposition in, but he used his rights to push to follow through,” said Soham Belgal (‘25).

President Macron used his special legislative rights to push the bill through despite opposition from both French citizens and the French government.

“There is a special article in the constitution, and he has used his special right already several times so people are afraid of two things. First of all, they do not like the abuse of that power, and second, there are a lot of people that are really struggling financially,” said Benadjaound.

While it is normal here to explore different job opportunities, french citizens usually only work for one company their entire life. Raising the retirement age means it could complicate jobs for the older generation, making it likely that they will lose their job.

“Since the pandemic, lots of people are struggling, and there is inflation all over the world right now, a lot of people are struggling. If you do not find a job, you will be expected to work, but you will be out on the streets, can not retire, and you don’t have income. You will be counted as someone who is out of work and can only get a little money from the state to live, but it is not enough. They have worked all their lives, and now they are told this,” said Benadjaound.

The younger generation is also upset about the pension raise.

“Even the young people, imagining they will have to work longer and will not get that much time to actually enjoy retirement, are upset,” said Belgal.

The protests are massive, and many have turned violent.

“The protests are violent, and the police are fighting back. They put tear gas on the crowds with water cannons too. The flare-ups were in the major parts of the cities like the capitals and Paris.

People are setting fires to things, they were arrested, and police officers were also injured. It was a big protest with lots of people. This has impacted the daily lives of people, places are being shut down and it has affected government and traffic,” said Belgal.

The daily lives of many have been affected, with many on strike.

“We have lots of people out on the streets, the garbage people are protesting, so there’s garbage piling up all over the place. Teachers are on strike because they are not very well paid, and now they have to work longer. It is not just about the retirement, it’s about the work conditions in general,” said Benadjaound. 

With all the backlash, Macron’s campaign and political standing will be severely affected.

“It is going to affect him a lot. It’s almost like a constitutional crisis so the question is how far can somebody go to take advantage of that right. In an interview, he said he doesn’t care about his popularity. He’s going to push through because he feels it’s more important for France because we have an aging population, so people have to pay. I don’t think he is going to be reelected. Even the prime minister doesn’t agree with Macron,” said Benadjaound.

In elections in 2017 and 2022, Macron comfortably overcame the other opponents. However, after this decision, his campaign has taken a huge hit.

In a poll published earlier this month, results show that if there was a vote between Macron and opponent Le Pen, the current president would lose 45% of the votes.

The protests are ongoing, with a new round occurring recently. On Thursday, citizens forced their way into the headquarter of LVMH the day shares were at a record high. A protest in front of the constitutional council was halted by police, and a ban on protests has been put into place. 

President Macron continues to stand firm, saying the reform is necessary for the country’s finances.