Hecklers disrupt Macron speech
French President Emmanuel Macron was interrupted by a group of hecklers during a keynote speech in the Netherlands on Tuesday. The dissenters accused him of contempt for democracy in forcing through a pension reform that has triggered months-long protests in France.
As the French leader was about to present his vision for “European sovereignty” at the Nexus Institute in The Hague, he was disrupted by a heckler crying, “I think we lost something; where is French democracy?” Other protesters present in the lecture hall were holding a banner reading: “President of violence and hypocrisy.”
“I can answer this question if you give me some time,” Macron replied.
“Why did you bypass [the] French parliament?” another protester screamed as security proceeded to remove them from the hall.
The activist was referring to a highly controversial decision by the French government to compel the National Assembly to enact a pension reform that raised the retirement age from 62 to 64.
“There are places [where] you can have violence, this is exactly the type of place where this type of expression is forbidden,” Macron stated when no longer being interrupted. He said that while he was ready to discuss the political process in France, and that debates in a democracy were quite important, democratically made decisions should be respected.
The Dutch police said after the incident that one man had been arrested and taken to the station for “possible disorder and violating the [local ordinance] due to the use of alcohol."
Another minor protest action also took place outside the venue where Macron was delivering his speech, with demonstrators chanting slogans like “against, against, against 49.3, what we want is democracy” – an apparent reference to the constitutional article which allowed the French government to force the law through parliament.
While Macron has repeatedly argued that without a pension system overhaul, France will experience significant financial difficulties, his legislative push triggered massive violent protests stretching across the country, which so far show no signs of abating.