When Emmanuel Macron was re-elected as France’s president last year, it was with a promise to bring in economic reforms after the damage done by Covid and what he believed was decades of failure to modernise. His platform was enough to defeat the far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, but she gained ground and a strong showing in the parliamentary election was enough to help deprive him of a working majority in the national assembly.

As the Guardian’s Paris correspondent, Angelique Chrisafis, tells Michael Safi, the French are no strangers to large-scale public protests, but the size and scale of the reaction to a planned increase in the retirement age has caught Macron off-guard. This week he was forced to cancel a state visit from King Charles, and police have been using increasing force to quell the protests in cities across the country.

Macron is showing no signs of reversing out of his measures. By using a constitutional battering ram, he has been able to force the changes through. Meanwhile, Le Pen has her eyes set on a new run for office at the next election, when disillusionment with the government could be a leading theme once again.

A protester is pushed by riot police during a demonstration in Paris as part of the 10th day of nationwide strikes and protests against the government's pension changes. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

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