French cities are ablaze as protestsover the raising of the national retirement agecontinue to rage.
Amidst the chaos, a video has gone viral on social media, showing diners calmly eating their meal in a restaurant as flames surround the building.
The scene has been compared to a popular two-pane image meme of a dog sitting in a room engulfed by flames but declaring that everything is fine.
It’s unclear where the video was shot, as various locations ranging from Paris to Lyon have been mentioned. However, the scene portrayed in the video is consistent with the images that have emerged from certain parts of France in recent days.
Streets in Paris have been filled with shoulder-high flames and piles of garbage as protests against the highly contested pension reform forced through by President Emmanuel Macron continue.
The reason behind the protests in France
Macron’s government sidestepped a parliament vote on the bill using special constitutional powers on March 16angering protestors.
Triggering Article 49.3 of the French ConstitutionMacron pushed forward his plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64forcing it through the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly. The bill had already gone through the Senate, but its approval at the National Assembly was far from guaranteed.
The issue is considered extremely contentious in France, and Macron’s proposal has led to strikes and widespread protests. The French state retirement age is much lower than in many of its European neighbors, making the issue even more sensitive.
However, Macron and his party have said that the reform is necessary to make sure that the pension system remains sustainable in the long term and save it from bankruptcy.
The failed votes of no-confidence sparked new protests in Paris and across France, with clashes and tense standoffs between demonstrators and anti-riot police happening in the capital. Despite the smell taking over the streets and rats feasting over the unexpected banquet, Parisians and the French public have generally been supportive of the protests.
Polls have shown that a wide majority of French are opposed to the pension legislation.
As the pension bill is expected to become law, a similar debate is creeping up in American politics, with analysts predicting that the U.S. Social Security program could become insolvent by the middle of the next decade. Possible solutions, like raising the age required to access pension benefitsare likely to be deeply unpopular with the public.