Fuel Shortages and Cabinet Infighting Mark Day 10 of France Strikes as Police Brace for Fresh Protests

A protestor standing beside a fire in the street holds a placards reading "The anger of th
LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

France remains in a state of chaos on Tuesday as the 10th straight day of union strikes is marked by fuel-pump shortages and government infighting.

Officials within the Emmanuel Macron government are reportedly bickering on what to do next amid ongoing chaos on the streets of France, which is currently seeing its tenth day of union strikes.

On and off protests ostensibly over the country’s planned pension reforms have been regularly taking in the country since January this year, with demonstrations intensifying over the last number of days into regular union strikes and even rioting in some locations. Police say they expect a violent minority to be active overnight.

In response to the public unrest, the country’s “Jupitarian” President Emmanuel Macron has lashed out at many members of the general public, accusing those taking part in ongoing demonstrations of having “no legitimacy” compared to him and his government, who have been forcing through desired reforms without consulting parliament via the use of a constitutional loophole.

Such an inflammatory statement has only provoked further fury amongst the general population, with recent polling showing that the vast majority of people in the country now view the head of state as having little understanding of the true severity of the current situation.

This view may be starting to spread to Macron’s own government, with POLITICO‘s insider reporting as part of its Playbook Paris series indicating that infighting is starting to take hold within the French cabinet, with the country’s Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, reportedly breaking ranks on some issues seemingly in the hopes of placating an ever-growing opposition.

For instance, Borne has now publicly said that it is her intention to stop using the Section 49.3 loophole to force through government legislation without the approval of parliament, unless the legislation is purely to do with the country’s budget.

“We need to calm down,” she reportedly remarked regarding her decision, arguing that she wanted to take part in more “bilateral meetings” with French trade unions in the hopes of ending the ongoing protest movement.

Borne’s public statement does not appear to have been pre-approved by Macron however, who reportedly described her statement on the constitutional loophole as “stupid” and not representing the position of the rest of the government.

Such a position appears to be shared by a number within Macron’s Renaissance party, with one ex-staffer criticising Borne’s effective denunciation of the 49.3 loophole as being a “huge mess”.

“It’s like she’s saying, ‘I’m quitting cocaine’,” the former Elysée insider remarked. “If it’s toxic, you shouldn’t get started!”.

Nevertheless, the mass movement against Macron’s pension reforms only appears to grow in intensity as time goes on.

Tuesday could very well see ongoing protests reach new heights, with 900,000 people all across France expected to take to the streets in order to demand the reforms be repealed.

In response, authorities have deployed 13,000 members of law enforcement to deal with the demos, with 5,000 being dedicated to controlling protests in Paris alone, though it is unclear how effective the deployed units will ultimately be in preventing the kind of violence that has so far plagued recent demonstrations.

Regardless of how effective such countermeasures end up being though, they will likely do nothing to solve the damage ongoing general strikes in the country are causing, with a wide variety of services and amenities having long since ceased to properly function in the country as workers protest the government.

Of the many failing amenities keeping government ministers up at night, what is likely the most problematic at the moment are ongoing fuel shortages facing certain gas stations, with over 16 per cent of outlets in the country reporting that they are running critically low on the supply of petrol and diesel.

Such a figure is far higher in Paris, where just under one in three gas stations are running low on fuel.

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