Protests in France Escalate amid Proposed Retirement Age Reform

Protests in France Escalate amid Proposed Retirement Age Reform

Date: 18-03-2023

Emily Wolfe 

Europe and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

Protests in France have recently escalated, with demonstrators taking to the streets to express their frustration with President Emmanuel Macron's proposed retirement age reform (BBC News, 2023). The reform would increase the retirement age from 62 to 64, a move that has been met with widespread opposition and anger across the country (Reuters, 2023). On Friday, police used pepper spray against protesters in Paris, detaining 61 individuals in connection with the demonstrations (Sky News, 2023). These arrests are in addition to the 310 individuals who were arrested on Thursday, with 258 of those arrests occurring in Paris (France 24, 2023).

The protests have also brought attention to broader concerns about democracy in France, with many people feeling that the government is becoming increasingly authoritarian and that citizens' rights are being eroded (France 24, 2023).

The French government has defended the retirement age reform as necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the country's pension system (Reuters, 2023). However, many people in France are skeptical of this claim and are calling for the reform to be repealed (CNN, 2023). The protests have been accompanied by two motions of no confidence submitted against President Macron, one of which was proposed by Marine Le Pen's party Rassemblement National and was reportedly signed by 88 cross-party MPs (France 24, 2023).

The protests have also garnered international attention, with people around the world expressing solidarity with the demonstrators and calling on the French government to respect the rights and freedoms of its citizens (Al Jazeera, 2023). The United Nations has expressed concern about the potential impact of the retirement age reform on citizens' rights and has called on the French government to ensure that any measures taken are in line with international human rights standards (France 24, 2023).

As the protests continue, their impact on the French government and on the future of democracy in France remains to be seen. However, it is clear that the people of France are determined to make their voices heard and to fight for their rights and freedoms (BBC News, 2023).

Sources and Further Reading:

Al Jazeera. (2023, March 17). Police clash with pension demonstrators for second night in Paris. Al Jazeera. Retrieved March 18, 2023, from

Armstrong, K. (2023, 18 March).France pension protests: Crowd clashes with police over government reform by decree. BBC News. Retrieved March 18, 2023, from

Atamal, J. et al. (2023, 18 March). Hundreds detained in fiery protests after French government forces through higher retirement age. CNN. Retrieved December 18 March, 2023 from

France 24. (2023, March 18). French unions see threat of Yellow Vest rerun over Macron's retirement push. France 24. Retrieved March 18, 2023, from 

Lynch, N. (2023, March 17). Police in Paris pepper spray protestors as demonstrations intensify against Macron's retirement age reform. Sky News. Retrieved March 18, 2023, from

Vidalon, D. and Ausloos, M. (2023, March 18). Protests resume in France amid anger at Macron's pension age reform. Reuters. Retrieved March 18, 2023, from