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"Are the French lazy?" : the severe international press on the protest against pensions


While a new day of mobilization will be held on February 16, the foreign media pass a sometimes harsh judgment on the demonstrations, often perceived as a kind of French tradition.

You can't be judge and judged, as the old adage goes.

The protest against the pension reform may have lasted for almost a month, the mobilizations which have been held in the country have almost always brought together between 1 and 2 million people, according to the prism of government or union figures.

A movement of magnitude obviously followed and scrutinized in France through its hexagonal media coverage.

All the more so since the beginning of the parliamentary debates which have tended, since the beginning of February, to accentuate the visibility of the subject.

To the point, for the French, of not having enough perspective on themselves?

And not being objective enough about their state of mind?

On this aspect, the comments of the international press, sometimes editorialized, can be enlightening.

Especially on the other side of the Atlantic.

In view of contemporary French history marked by several social movements, an editorial in the

New York Times

sees "

an air of deja vu

" in the recent demonstrations.

And the American newspaper to ask a question, to say the least, direct:

“Are the French simply lazy?”.

If the productivity of the French is considered to be better than that of the Germans, despite the 35-hour weekly regulation, the editorialist Robert Zaretski demolishes the French retirement “devoted not only to leisure but also to voluntary work


“A postulate which could, according to this denier, cause a bronca among some Americans.

Read also Pension reform: “Who has an interest in a vote in the National Assembly?”

In another article from the same media, we denounce

“conceptions very rooted in mentalities, where active life is seen as a chore, and retirement as a liberation.”

On the other side of the Atlantic, in the United Kingdom, strikes and demonstrations are rare.

Even if the country is now hit by an unprecedented protest movement.

For the BCC,

“continued strikes in transport, hospitals and fuel depots would be the worst scenario for the French government.

It would bring the country to a permanent standstill.”

Their British colleagues from the

Daily Telegraph

pass a harsher judgement.

The conservative daily calls the strike a

“national sport

” in France:

“Some workers are so on strike that they forget what job they are on strike for.

And to fuel the rivalry between the two countries: "

God only knows how France's productivity is so much higher than that of Great Britain..."



- "This reform is adapted to the world of work as it was and not to the one to come", judge Judith Waintraub

“Reference to neighbors is not accepted”

As for the German daily

Die Welt



“does not know who

” from the executive or the unions “

will win the showdown”.

“The French president wants to defend his political heritage as a reformer whose momentum has been slowed down by numerous crises,”

he analyzes.

Support for Emmanuel Macron to better mock French public opinion, which is massively opposed to the reform, as indicated by the latest opinion polls.


"the pension fund is not in deficit today, the majority of French people do not consider reform as imperative"


“The arguments about intergenerational justice and increased life expectancy are swept away.

The reference to the neighbours, who all work longer hours, is not accepted”,

mocks the magazine from across the Rhine.

Read also Pension reform: “Emmanuel Macron has lost his left”

A little further south, in Spain, the daily

El Pais

describes the recent demonstrations as a "


" for the President of the Republic.

And is a little more understanding of the protesters than his German counterpart.

“The rejection of the project is broad and transversal.

Although the marches were filled by trade unionists, there were also young people and pensioners, mostly left-wing voters,

reports the Spanish media.

These are the middle classes who fear, for themselves or for their children, a less comfortable future, and who see in their current president the person responsible for an erosion of the welfare state.

Conversely, the Italian

Corriere della Sera


he does not take sides.

After the movement of yellow vests, which severely tested the first term of the French president

”, the pension reform is, for Emmanuel Macron, “

a new political test, in a difficult economic and social context.


As for the Belgian media

Le Soir,

it considers that

"the executive still wants to believe that it can stand up to the street."


"history is full of other sequences where social movements had pushed governments to capitulate"

, the newspaper sees

"no outright blockage in sight".


La Tribune de Genève,


“the tango is danced in threes, between the street, the parliament, but also the government.”

And to arrive at this analysis:

“For the demonstrators, there is only one solution: withdrawal, but the challenge is to know if their mobilization will be maintained.

For Emmanuel Macron, the abandonment of the project would be a major defeat which would seriously undermine his authority.

The next few weeks will tell who in this tango will lead the last dance.



- Pensions: "At the end of his life a Portuguese will have worked 12,000 hours more than a Frenchman", says Olivier Babeau

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-02-15

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