May Day Protests In France Turn Violent As Unions Fume Over Macron's Pension Reform

Nationwide protests are expected in France on Monday, with annual May Day demonstrations coinciding with ongoing discontent over President Emmanuel Macron's unpopular pension overhaul in March. 

As reported by NYTimes, French authorities estimate 500,000 to 650,000 protesters across the country – with as many as 100,000 or more in Paris. A flare-up in demonstrations today comes after months of unrest due to France's Constitutional Council approving Macron's unpopular pension reform that raised the retirement age from 62 to 64. 

Despite the decision, some of France's most powerful unions say they will fight on. The question is whether this anger will stick around for the rest of Macron's presidential term or eventually fades. 

Several top union leaders have made it clear they're not giving up. 

"I don't accept the 64 years. I will never accept them," said Laurent Berger, the head of France's largest and most moderate major union, the CFDT. He expects "hundreds of thousands" and or even "1 million or 1.5 million" demonstrators on the streets today. 

"Macron is trying to move forward no matter what, but people are standing still," said Antoine Bristielle, the head of the polling department at the Fondation Jean-Jaurès research institute. He said, "About 60 percent of the population say they don't want to move on from the pension reform."

"There will be no return to normal unless the reform is withdrawn," Sophie Binet, the head of the General Confederation of Labor, France's second-largest labor union, told local media outlet RTL. 

Despite months of demonstrations, unions show no signs of backing down and continue to exert pressure on the government.

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