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Vandals attack French politician's office over pensions row

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron pledged Sunday to protect lawmakers facing threats for supporting his push to raise the retirement age, amid sustained strikes and protests over the pension bill ahead of high-stakes votes in parliament Monday.

Protesters vandalized the office of the president of the conservative Republican party overnight, in an apparent threat to get his party to block Macron’s pension reform.

Eric Ciotti tweeted a photo of his office in the French Riviera city of Nice with shattered windows after a paving stone was thrown at it. The vandals also scrawled the words “the motion or the stone” — in reference to two no-confidence motions to be voted on Monday in the lower house of parliament.

Other officials have also reported vandalism or intimidation attempts in recent days for their support for the retirement bill.

In response, Macron called the speakers of both houses of parliament to affirm his support for all legislators and said the government was mobilized to “put everything in place to protect them,” the president's office said Sunday night.

Macron also reiterated his wish for the bill to “reach the end of its democratic path in a context of respect for everyone.”

After weeks of mass protests and punishing strikes, Macron last week ordered Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to invoke a special constitutional power to push the bill through by skirting a vote in the lower chamber of parliament. In response, opposition lawmakers filed no-confidence motions against her Cabinet.

Ciotti had announced his party would not vote for either of the two motions of censure — meaning there would not be enough votes to stop the law from coming into force.

Reacting to the vandals, Ciotti tweeted: “I will never give in to the new disciples of terror.”

Getting a no-confidence motion to pass will be challenging — none has succeeded since 1962, and Macron’s centrist alliance still has the most seats in the National Assembly. A minority of conservatives could stray from the Republicans party line, but it remains to be seen whether they’re willing to bring down Macron’s government.

Garbage collection in Paris remained disrupted in some neighborhoods Sunday by a protracted sanitation workers' strike. A few hundred people demonstrated outside the Les Halles shopping center in Paris before police dispersed them. Earlier Sunday, dozens of union activists marched through a shopping mall in the Paris suburb of Rosny-sous-Bois.

Macron argues the pension overhaul is needed to keep the system afloat as the population ages. Opponents are pushing to raise taxes on the wealthy or charge employers more instead.

 

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