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Region of Concern: France

Written By Beatrice Cirrone; Edited by Salomon Montaguth and Jennifer Loy

Date: March 17, 2023

Police in Paris[1]

Event: On March 16, the French police arrested 258 people in a clash between anti-government demonstrators and national security forces in Paris amid nationwide protests. Thousands of people were protesting President Macron's proposal to reform the pension system last January intended to raise the retirement age. The intensity of violence increased on Thursday due to the government's activation of Article 49.3 of the Constitution to bypass the parliamentary vote. Protesters used Molotov cocktails, torched dustbins, erected barricades, and risked daubing historical monuments in the city center. The police responded using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.[2]

Significance: Labor and student movements will likely organize into a nationally coordinated network to plan upcoming protests and target several cities simultaneously, making the national police emergency management response more complex. The intensity of the protests will likely result in more violent methods by protesters, like arson attacks and paper bombs, and lead to more arrests by police. Areas surrounding institutional sites, such as the Presidential palace, Parliament, and police headquarters, will likely be targeted by the protests, threatening Paris’ nerve points for workers and tourists. The protests will likely weaken the tightness of the government coalition, and the parliamentary opposition will likely provide more obstruction, delaying the decision-making process. The announcement of the activation of Article 49.3 will likely trigger widespread political resentment and submission of a motion of no-confidence by the opposition parties, led by the far-right party Rassemblement National.

Recommendations: The government should increase police deployment in the Paris central areas holding institutional buildings, such as Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, and Place Charles de Gaulle, and historical sites, such as monuments and churches. The government should authorize additional law enforcement forces deployed to the government coalition's parliamentarians and senators. In preparation for a new protest on March 23, the Defense Ministry should authorize additional law enforcement forces to be deployed to the government coalition's parliamentarians and senators, a sufficient number of anti-riot squads, and ensure effective equipment to deal with protesters' attacks. The police should monitor the union groups' social networks and cooperate with national intelligence to detect potential threats and protesters' weaponry. The French government should immediately initiate a social dialogue by listening to the requests of labor associations, such as Solidaires, to quell the violence escalation and contain the economic effects of the current strikes by the airport and transport operators and garbage collectors.



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