More than 1.2 million protestors are demonstrating in opposition to the government’s plan to raise the pension age from 62 to 64. The goal is to “bring France to a standstill” and show their opposition to President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal, which also includes requiring more years worked to claim pensions.
The protests are entering their seventh straight day, and they have thus far seen a wide variety of services disrupted across the country, from travel to schools to energy delivery to trash collection; the fight over France’s generous retirement system has become a national struggle over an issue that was never popular with the French public.
Macron’s government argues, and has argued since being elected over the summer, that the retirement age needs to be pushed up. They say that to prevent long-term deficits caused by longer life expectancies and more pensioners, adding two extra years would ease the costs that current workers pay. But while France’s retirement system could face long-term deficits, it is not in the immediate vicinity of bankruptcy. Left-wing opponents and unions are angry at Macron for not considering other options such as increased taxes.
It is unknown if the protests will be successful. Analysts say the protestors have presented a stronger front than the government, but the toll the strikes and marches would take on prices and daily life in France may be too great to continue them for much longer.
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