Former French President François Hollande has blamed his successor, Emmanuel Macron, for the ongoing riots in France.
François Hollande, France’s former left-wing president, has publicly lashed out at his successor, Emmanuel Macron, blaming him for the ongoing riots plaguing the country.
Sparked by pension reforms forced through parliament by the Macron government — and evidently against the wishes of many — France has seen widespread strikes and protests since January that only appear to be increasing in intensity as time goes on.
Speaking with French broadcaster BFMTV, Hollande has now attributed this widespread public unrest to Macron, arguing that both he and his government have repeatedly botched their handling of the pension reforms.
According to the former French head-of-state, Macron’s reforms are not fair to many. He said: “When you propose a pension reform that requires effort from those who worked hard and early, and nothing from those with the highest incomes, it is the wrong way round,” he remarked.
Macron’s administration also made a litany of other errors to boot according to Hollande, including not consulting the trade unions in relation to the reforms, implementing the changes during a cost of living crisis, and forcing through the reforms without letting the French parliament vote on them.
Hollande also attacked Macron for failing to properly communicate with the French public, with the sitting President speaking in an inflammatory way about the protests rather than trying to calm things down.
“We were waiting for the president to appease [political tensions],” Hollande said regarding recent outbursts by the President. “He exacerbated [them].”
Overall, Hollande warned that things in France overall is in a particularly poor political situation, with many in the country feeling that the country under Macron is plagued by “injustice“.
“There have been crises in the past… but here, we have a level of anger and resentment that I’ve rarely known,” Hollande remarked.
“In many parts of the population there is this same anger – this feeling that democracy does not work as it should,” he went on to say.
Such a claim does not appear to be farfetched, with images of burning refuse and police vehicles now regularly emerging out of France as mass demonstrations against the pension reforms continue.
Some on the country’s left have even warned that the violence could yet get worse, with France’s answer to Bernie Sanders, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, warning that there has yet to be real violence during the protests, comparing them to the student riots of 1968.
“You haven’t seen May 68!” the parliamentarian reportedly said. “You don’t know what a violent demonstration is!”.
The level of discontent is sufficient that there is now some discussion of a ‘Sixth French Republic’. A key part of the French political system, since it overthrew the monarchy and declared the First Republic in 1792, is a periodic tearing-down and re-writing of the constitution.
The Fifth Republic, created in 1958, has features that suited its creator, strongman Charles De Gaulle, which naturally includes a strong head of state — the president — who has executive powers including the ability to pass laws without a vote. It is this power which has so intensified the recent protests and strikes after it was used to push through the pensions act.