Inside Story

Why are so many people in France angry about pension overhaul?

Protests intensify against President Emmanual Macron’s plans to raise the retirement age. 

Changing France’s state pension system to one that is more affordable for the government was a central plank of President Emmanual Macron’s re-election campaign.

However, the reform, which includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, has become the central issue in French politics and highly unpopular among the public.

Strikes and protests against the move intensified this week, some turning violent with hundreds arrested in Paris.

Transport and other public services have been hit. Mounds of uncollected rubbish remain on the streets, ensuring a constant and unpleasant reminder of the dispute.

Macron used his executive powers to push through the changes because he could not get enough support to pass them in parliament.

This has increased the opposition he faces – but also, it seems, Macron’s resolve to force through the measures.

He condemned this week’s violence but does not appear to be budging on the issue.

So why is Macron so determined and the opposition so intense?

Presenter: Adrian Finighan


Axel Persson – union representative for railway workers at the General Confederation of Labour

Lara Marlowe – Paris correspondent for The Irish Times

Paul Taylor – contributing editor at Politico and senior fellow at the Friends of Europe think tank