French Protests 2023.

2023 French Pension Protests / France Pension Reform Unrest

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Updated Apr 20, 2023 at 02:16PM EDT by Zach.

Added Apr 18, 2023 at 04:35PM EDT by Brandon.

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The 2023 French Pension Protests, also referred to as France Pension Reform Unrest, are an ongoing multi-month series of protests in France that took place in early 2023 due to forced changes in the European country's pension policy by French President Emmanuel Macron. The changes, an increase in the age from 62 to 64 that a citizen is allowed to retire and collect a pension, led to multiple large-scale protests and riots in several parts of Paris, often with mixed results. The controversy and events were covered en masse by media around the world, as well as discussed online across most social media platforms. Various memes about the unrest also appeared online during the protests.


Historically, France as a country has had one of the youngest retirement ages among first-world countries, which economists have been warning as potentially dangerous with life expectancy increasing slightly year after year, eventually leading to a system with increasing economic strain.

In an effort to change the system, President Emmanuel Macron pushed forth legislation in January 2023 to change the retirement age from 62 to 64 in an effort to increase the number of people paying into the system and reduce the number of French citizens draining it. This legislation push ultimately resulted in backlash from French people, particularly the country's youth, and the first of many protests on January 19th, 2023.

Videos of the protest quickly spread on TikTok and other social media platforms online in late January 2023. For example, on January 19th, TikToker tarapoam[1] uploaded one such clip showing the protest as it initially sparked in France (shown below).

@tarapoam Pension Reform Protests Paris, France January 19, 2023 #Paris #Protests ♬ original sound – Tara “PoAm” Szczepanski


President Macron's Usage of Article 49.3

Several protests took place since the initial one on January 19th, 2023, with all of them related to the contentious pension reform plans that President Macron put forth. On March 16th, 2023, President Macron then enacted a provision of the French legislative system called Article 49.3, which essentially gave him the power to push a piece of legislation through without having a formal vote on it.[5] The drawback of this is that doing so allows the government to receive an official "Vote of No Confidence" challenge (similar to what Britain went through, which resulted in several Prime Ministers being replaced in a short time).

This pushing of pension legislation without a proper vote set off an even more intense wave of protests shortly after, which also became a prominent topic online. For example, on March 16th, TikToker lbnnglobalnews[2] uploaded a TikTok showing a protest happening on the French Parliament floor due to the use of Article 49.3 (shown below).

@lbnnglobalnews #french #fyp #fypシ #france🇫🇷 #protest #LBNN #limitlessbeliefsnews #wef #unitednations ♬ original sound – LIMITLESS BELIEFS NEWS

Further Protests

After the passing of the legislation by President Macron via Article 49.3, it was decided amongst the unions that March 23rd, 2023, would be the chosen day to show out in force. On that day, it was reported that an estimated 12,000 police officers had been called in to be stationed around various parts of cities across France, with Paris alone needing over 5,000 officers.

These protests were notably large-scale, with multiple TikToks being uploaded in late March 2023 showing on-the-ground coverage of different events. One event, uploaded by TikToker ryanjreyes_[3] on March 23rd, showed a police unit first advancing into an area and firing tear gas before being pushed back by the crowd, eventually causing them to retreat (shown below).

@ryanjreyes_ the French know how to protest, these pigs are crazy #paris #acab #protest ♬ original sound – Ryan Reyes

Online Reactions

Online, many reactions to the videos of strikes and police confrontations spread between January and April 2023, some of which led to nervousness about visiting France due to the unrest. With France being a popular vacation destination spot (specifically Paris) and several cities having multiple different strikes, including a garbage strike in which trash piled up in the street, many questions and concerns started to pop up from tourists about visiting the country.

These fears were then addressed in a post by TikToker americanfille[4] on March 23rd, 2023, who gave an overview of the types of events going on, the protests and how to best plan a trip to France around the protests to be as unaffected as possible. The video earned over 157,000 likes and 2.4 million views in one month (shown below).

@americanfille Paris protests March 23rd #parisprotest #parisgreve #paris ♬ original sound – Amanda Rollins

Search Interest

External References

[1] TikTok – tarapoam

[2] TikTok – lbnnglobalnews

[3] TikTok – Ryanjreyes_

[4] TikTok – americanfille

[5] NYT – Article 49.3

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