15, October 2019
Firefighters reveled in setting off firecrackers for hours as they led the latest multi-profession demonstration against President Emmanuel Macron.
Other than the never-ending firecrackers, the protests were similar to countless other demonstrations over the past decade: against funding cuts to schools, social security, poverty programs, hospitals and countless other job creating public institutions.
Macron is trying to force through a radical overhaul to the pension system, which would raise the retirement age by two years. It would also create universal, one-size-fits-all system, even though it’s hard to imagine a 64-year-old fireman still working such a physically demanding job.
Many here say that it’s false to blame France’s fiscal issues on the pension system. France’s deficit has ballooned following banker bailouts, immoral interest rates and years of cutting taxes for the wealth and for profitable corporations.
Protesters say that, even more than his two predecessors, Macron has refused to engage in a cooperative political process with those opposed to his right-wing reforms. Because of the lack of political cooperation, Macron has been plagued by massive protests. Only the risky and self-sacrificing protests by the Yellow Vest anti-government movement have gained some minor concessions. That has left non-Yellow Vest protesters wondering exactly how democratic public opinion plays a role in French-style democracy.