France was brought to a "standstill" by marches and strikes protesting a proposed raise of the retirement age and access to relevant benefits–a nationwide shutdown that appeared to have rattled lawmakers in advance of a vote in France's parliament. But it was no problem for president Emmanuel Macron, who skipped the vote at the last moment and used special powers to enact the bill instead. Though it will likely trigger a no-confidence vote in his government, it's considered unlikely to bring it down.
The atmosphere was tense outside of parliament as heavily armed guards and riot police ringed the picturesque neighbourhoods around the National Assembly. Earlier Thursday, the Senate adopted the bill in a 193-114 vote, a tally that was largely expected since the conservative majority of the upper house of parliament favours raising the retirement age. Macron's alliance lost its parliamentary majority last year, forcing the government to count on conservative lawmakers to pass the bill. Leftists and far-right lawmakers are strongly opposed and conservatives are divided, which made the outcome unpredictable.
Why let them eat cake when you can force-feed them shit?