Mostly calm on the streets of Paris, the garbage continued to accumulate

PARIS — Protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reforms are set to continue in France over the weekend, as garbage trucks continue to reek of garbage on the streets of Paris and beyond.

An eerie calm returned to Paris on Saturday after two nights of protests by thousands in the French capital, with a flashpoint in the elegant Place de la Concorde, where angry protesters threw an effigy of Macron on a pyre to cheers from the crowd on Friday night. . Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd, and hundreds of arrests were made.

Protesters are trying to pressure lawmakers to topple Macron’s government and condemn an ​​unpopular pension age hike he is trying to introduce without a vote in the National Assembly.

More protests are planned for Saturday in Paris, as well as in Marseille and Nantes, but they are expected to be smaller than in previous days.

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In the 12th arrondissement of Paris on Saturday, as a result of the mild weather and sunshine, garbage accumulated a few meters away from a bakery. Some Parisians who bought their weekend baguettes blamed Macron’s government.

“The government needs to change its position and listen to the people because what is happening is extremely serious. And we see radicalization,” said Isabelle Vergriette, 64, a psychologist. “The government is largely responsible for this.”

The borough’s mayor, Emmanuelle Pierre-Marie, has been out since the early hours of the morning, voicing her concern in her neighborhood about the consequences of the pile-up of garbage, which has become a visual and olfactory symbol of the anti-pension campaign.

“Food waste is our priority because it brings pests to the surface,” said Pierre-Marie. “We are extremely sensitive to the situation. As soon as a tipper truck is available, we give priority to the most affected places, such as food markets.”

Strikes are planned for Monday in many sectors, from transport to energy. The civil aviation authority requested the cancellation of 30% of flights at Paris’s second airport, Orly, and 20% at Marseille.

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According to Laurent Berger, head of the moderate CFDT trade union, the pension reform “must be withdrawn”.

“We condemn the violence. … But look at the anger. It is very strong, even among our ranks,” he said on RMC radio.

On Friday, a day after Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne invoked special constitutional powers to bypass the chaotic House of Commons vote, lawmakers on the right and left tabled motions of no confidence, which will be voted on Monday.