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Anarchy in Marseille as Macron protests turn violent

France assamblé

Presumably, Macron‘s government has killed itself, even though, early this week, it survived two confidence votes.

Carnival celebrations in Marseille descended into violence on the night of March 19, in protest against Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular pension reforms. What began as a family-friendly event quickly degenerated into anarchy when 300 people started a bonfire in the middle of a major square, throwing scooters, bikes and rubbish bins into the flames. Around 9,000 people attended the independent festival that featured floats blasting Macron’s decision to ram through his pension reform bill using a constitutional veto to bypass a parliamentary vote. The backlash came ahead of two no-confidence votes on Monday, which aimed to topple the government and quash the passing of the bill.


This Is Europe
Confidence falters, but far-right motions fail in Spain and France
Confidence falters, but far-right motions fail in Spain and France
In an odd piece of legislative symmetry, both the French and the Spanish governments have faced, and survived, no-confidence votes this week. But despite the coincidence and the broadly similar outcomes, the situations on either side of the Pyrenees are very, very different.

The French votes – there were two – were tabled in response to Emmanuel Macron’s controversial decision to use executive powers to push through an unpopular rise in the pension age from 62 to 64. The vote of no confidence in the administration of Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, was a carefully calculated, if counterproductive, political gamble from the far-right Vox party, which is stalling in the polls.

Although the French prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, avoided having to resign, the first no-confidence vote just fell short of the required absolute majority, attracting 278 of the 287 votes needed to pass. And while the second motion, brought by the far-right National Rally, garnered only 94 votes in the chamber, public anger remains palpable and the government’s position fraught.

While Macron’s pension plans are likely to become law, their path into legislation will be neither quiet nor smooth. The French president stands accused of arrogance, sidestepping democracy and of badly misjudging the mood in the streets – there have been more than 1,500 protests in cities including Marseille, Lyon, Lille and Paris over recent days. The spectre of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) anti-government protest movement four years ago looms large and tensions remain high.

“There has been a denial of democracy,” one trade unionist told Angelique Chrisafis. “Macron thinks of himself as a kind of king, Jupiter up high looking down on us. We’ve got to hold out until he listens.”

Events in Spain’s congress of deputies on Tuesday and Wednesday were less life-or-death – and a good deal more surreal. Vox’s candidate to challenge and replace Sánchez was Ramón Tamames, an 89-year-old economist, writer and former communist who enjoyed his moment in the spotlight but failed to topple the socialist-led minority government.

Vox had hoped that the motion would capitalise on public anger over issues such as Sánchez’s controversial overhaul of Spain’s sedition law, and his government’s botched sexual offences reforms, whose sentencing revisions have allowed hundreds of sex offenders to have their sentences reduced on appeal.

That was not to be. With Spain heading to the polls for municipal and regional elections at the end of May – and a general election at the end of the year – its big political players refused to take the bait. Wary of being seen to cuddle up to the far-right, the conservative People’s party (PP) chose to abstain from the vote, accusing Vox of “handing Sánchez a smokescreen for his scandals”.

Sánchez, meanwhile, embraced the opportunity to highlight his government’s achievements and to blast his opponents for their endless nostalgia. “This is a motion to stop Spain moving forwards; to make it go backwards,” said the prime minister. “In the PP’s case, that’s 10 years. In Vox’s case, that’s half a century.”

As anticipated, Vox’s attempt to bring down the government failed when the motion was put to the vote early on Wednesday afternoon. Fifty-three MPs voted in favour, 201 against and 91 abstained.

The Guardian view on ruling by decree in France: deepening the trust deficit
The Guardian
The Guardian view on ruling by decree in France: deepening the trust deficit

Published by Guestspeaker

A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

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