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French pension age rise to 64 cleared by Court

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French President Emmanuel Macron.
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France top constitutional body has cleared the Macron government’s highly unpopular move to raise the state pension age from 62 to 64.

The Constitutional Council also rejected calls for a referendum by political opponents but struck out some of the reforms citing legal flaws.

Twelve days of protests have been held against the reforms since January.

In March, the government used a special constitutional power to force through the reforms without a vote.

President Emmanuel Macron argues the changes are essential to prevent the pension system collapsing and Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne tweeted on Friday that “tonight there is no winner, no loser”.

The authorities had banned demonstrations in front of the Constitutional Council building until Saturday morning, but crowds of protesters had gathered near by and the ruling was met with jeers.

Some demonstrators chanted they would continue protesting until the changes were withdrawn.

Barriers were erected in the streets near the court and anti-riot police were deployed in case of further, potentially violent protests.

Among the handful of proposed changes rejected by the nine members of the Constitutional Council was a so-called “senior index” aimed at urging companies with more than 1,000 workers to take on employees over 55.

The left-wing Nupes political alliance was one of the groups that lodged an appeal with the council over the reforms and its leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, said the “fight” will continue.

“The decision of the Constitutional Council shows that it is more attentive to the needs of the presidential monarchy than to those of the sovereign people,” he said.

Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Rally, which had also appealed to the court, responded on social media that “the political fate of the pension reform is not sealed”.

While the court rejected an initial bid for a referendum on the reforms, it will decided next month on a further proposal for a national vote by the left.

French political analyst Antoine Bristielle told the BBC he did not think there would soon be an end to the protests that have taken place across France for the past three months.

“A lot of people were saying that the reforms would pass and that the Constitutional Court would not avoid it so it’s not a surprise,” he said.

“But I think we will see in the upcoming hours and at the weekend a lot of riots and strikes in the country because there are still 70% of the French population against the reform.”

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