On Thursday afternoon, President Emmanuel Macron’s government used the Article 49.3 tool to push through his controversial pension reform without giving MPs a vote – a move that sparked fury in France, some violent protests and the announcement of more strikes.
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Here is how French media responded;
The Communist-linked French daily newspaper L’Humanité showed an image of French president Emmanuel Macron and prime minister Elisabeth Borne with the caption “the arm of honour to the people” – that’s not as nice as it sounds as the expression le bras d’honneur means sticking two fingers up at someone.
READ MORE: French Expression of the Day: Le bras d’honneur
L' Humanité du vendredi 17 mars 2023 chez les marchands de journaux et dès ce soir 22h00 sur ordinateur. https://t.co/s4nZf9skga tablettes et smartphones avec nos applis IOS https://t.co/Nwm028Ng9C et Android https://t.co/AzRCWAjIRD #ReformeDesRetraites pic.twitter.com/LU48wbGV5G
— L'Humanité (@humanite_fr) March 16, 2023
The centre-left Libération newspaper featured a close-up of the French president with the uncompromising headline – Pensions crisis – his fault.
A la une de @Libe ce vendredi :
🔴 Crise des retraites : sa faute
Lire : https://t.co/nj2k4mQp7h pic.twitter.com/QpkIzA8F97
— Libération (@libe) March 16, 2023
Paris-based daily Le Parisien goes with ‘The government plays it safe’ (by avoiding a vote on the pensions bill, which it risked losing).
La une du journal du vendredi 17 mars https://t.co/0b7FCe2C1c pic.twitter.com/mwsNNGgIqu
— Le Parisien | la une (@leparisien_une) March 17, 2023
While Le Monde, often referred to as ‘the paper of record’ goes for a straight headline saying ‘The recourse to Article 49.3 accentuates the political crisis’.
🗞️ A la une du 𝕸𝖔𝖓𝖉𝖊
◼️ Le recours au 49.3 accentue la crise politique
◼️ Industrie : la stratégie de l'Europe face aux Etats-Unis et à la Chine
◼️ Ukraine : la Pologne, pays de l'OTAN, va livrer des Mig-29 à Kiev
Et pour vous abonner : https://t.co/okXwiCLENO pic.twitter.com/WgNxfc9ySm
— Le Monde (@lemondefr) March 17, 2023
The Catholic paper La Croix, made their front page an image of the Assembeé nationale (the French parliament) with the headline “The 49.3 ignites the Assembly”, referring to the controversial Article 49.3 used to ram the legislation through parliament.
#ÀLaUne de La Croix :
🟠 Le 49.3 enflamme l'Assemblée pic.twitter.com/2PzR1RW7Xo
— La Croix (@LaCroix) March 16, 2023
Regional newspaper La Voix du Nord, also used an image of parliament with the headline “The [Article] 49.3, and then the fever”.
Demain, à la une de votre journal #vdnune pic.twitter.com/CVI2Fw1ISi
— La Voix du Nord (@lavoixdunord) March 16, 2023
In the south west, the regional newspaper SudOuest used a similar image from France’s parliament, with the words “The reform, whatever it costs” laid over top the picture, with the phrase quoi qu’il en coute referring to Macron’s pledge to protect the French people from the financial effect of the pandemic “whatever it costs”.
To the south, along the border with Spain, regional newspaper La République des Pyrénées used an image of protest crowds for its front page, with the words “Macron at forced march”. The headline is a play on words for the previous name of the Macronist political party, En Marche.
But the move didn’t just make headlines in France, media around Europe and beyond have also reported on the use of Article 49.3 to force through the bill, and the protests that followed.
In neighbouring Belgium, the front page of French language newspaper Le Soir showed France’s parliament with the words “The power grab” (le coup de force).
The anglophone world has also been watching the political events unfolding in France with interest. The New York Times used a picture from the French parliament as their main image, with the headline Macro decree alters pensions as rage builds.
In the UK, both the Telegraph and the Guardian featured French pension reform on their front pages.