Not even 10 minutes ago the French government had survived a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly.
Less than a kilometer from there, in front of Napoleon's tomb in the monumental complex of Les Invalides, the street had already passed its sentence.
"We also want to impose ourselves by force," hundreds of citizens chanted this Monday, mostly young people, watched from a distance by almost as many police officers.
It was half past seven in the evening, and this chant resounded among the empty streets of the most bourgeois Paris, which alluded to the decision of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to impose by decree
the unpopular pension reform.
The song sums up the moment France is experiencing.
A president who imposes himself by force, but is unable to persuade his fellow citizens and lacks a sufficient majority to pass his laws.
An opposition that feels strong enough to torpedo the legislature and perhaps the presidency, but without leaders who appear in the eyes of the country as a solid alternative.
A street – this inescapable actor in French political life, at least since the Revolution of 1789 – in growing tension, but which until now has not been able to bend Macron's will.
French politics is today a set of impotence.
No one is strong enough to defeat the other.
And the motion, so even, resolves little.
Spontaneous demonstrations were organized across the country after the result was known.
There were altercations, clashes with the police, fires.
At ten o'clock at night, there were already more than a hundred detainees in the capital.
"Anger is enormous," Alexis Corbière, deputy for La France Insoumise, the anti-capitalist and Eurosceptic party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, said hours before in the corridors of the Bourbon Palace, seat of the National Assembly.
"We have to keep fighting".
France, Paris, the Bourbon palace have become a political and social arena.
The battle – peaceful until last week Macron activated article 49.3 of the Constitution to adopt the reform without the vote of the National Assembly – takes place in parallel and geographically close scenarios.
The Parliament, the Places de la Concorde, where in 1783 the French beheaded Louis XVI, or the Place de Vauban, four steps from the remains of Napoleon.
Sometimes the scenarios get confused.
left returned to take out banners this Monday in the chamber.
Mélenchon has been encouraging for days to continue with the spontaneous demonstrations.
Divorce with the majority
There is a divorce between Macron and the French.
Figures with his image have been burned in the demonstrations.
The failure of the motion, by a margin of nine votes, means that from now on any law will be subject to new motions.
Maybe one will succeed.
The historian Jean Garrigues has written in the newspaper
: "These manifestations of hatred towards the head of state, assimilated to a monarch of the Old Regime, are symptoms of the radical disconnection of a good part of the citizens with the political elites, of which the head of state is the archetype”.
"French democracy is in a deep, deep crisis," reflected, before voting in the Assembly, the national secretary of the Communist Party, Fabien Roussel.
“This is extremely dangerous.
We urge the president to come to his senses.
It is damaging our Republic, our country, and it could cause a serious crisis, the outcome of which nobody knows."
Laure Lavalette, from Marine Le Pen's National Rally, declared in the chamber: "More than ever, I am convinced that we are the true alternative."
Addressing the presidential bench, she added: "I am convinced that, after you, we come."
In the Place Vauban, in front of the Invalides, a young man in a suit protests.
Ties begin to be seen at demonstrations.
His name is Axel, he is 23 years old, he is a lawyer specializing in labor law.
He says that he is not here to protest against the reform itself, but against the way Macron has used to impose it.
"It is not worthy of our country," he says.
"I am not a regular at demonstrations, it is the second in my life, but as a French citizen I have considered that I should be here."
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