He’s just waiting for the decision of the Constitutional Council on the pension reform, said Macron, emphasizing: “The law will continue on its democratic path.” The Constitutional Council is a court that oversees the constitutionality of laws. Among other things, Macron’s reform provides for the gradual increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64 and a minimum pension of 1,200 euros for a full contribution period.

The President sharply condemned the recent blockade actions and riots. “The unions are against the reform, I respect that. (…) But when groups use extreme violence and attack MPs, for example, then that’s no longer part of a democracy,” said Macron.

At the same time, he defended his use of constitutional paragraph 49.3 to push through pension reform. According to this, a law can be passed without a final vote in Parliament if the government survives a subsequent vote of no confidence. On Monday, the government narrowly escaped being overthrown in such a vote.

“There is no alternative majority,” stressed Macron. However, he acknowledged errors in communication, speaking in the plural: “We have not been able to convince of the need”. He will continue to defend the pension reform because it is “in the public interest”. Macron also highlighted that most European countries have already voted for a higher retirement age.

The President announced that MPs will in future debate shorter and simpler bills. For example, the planned immigration law will be divided into several individual legal texts. The government’s plans had been heavily criticized even before the debate originally planned for Tuesday in the Senate. “There will be several legal texts on immigration, they will be presented in the coming weeks,” said Macron.

He accused the unions of not having made “a compromise proposal” in the pension debate. At the same time, however, he called for the dialogue with the social partners to be resumed in the next three to four weeks. It should be about the working conditions for older workers and in arduous jobs. In fact, shortly after taking office, Macron curtailed existing offers for retraining, part-time work or early retirement for people in particularly strenuous jobs.

The opposition criticized Macron’s statements. The president was throwing “explosives on the embers,” wrote socialist party leader Olivier Faure on Twitter. CGT union leader Philippe Martinez accused Macron of “despising the millions of people on the street.” “Out of touch, arrogant and mendacious,” tweeted left-wing populist faction leader Mathilde Panot.

The protests, meanwhile, took on new forms and dimensions. Several ports, including Marseille, Brest and Saint-Nazaire, were blocked on Wednesday. Demonstrators also blocked access to several fuel depots, several highways and a university in Lyon.

Riots broke out again in Paris on Wednesday night. According to the police, 128 people were taken into custody nationwide, 81 of them in Paris. More than 60 members of the emergency services were injured. The human rights organization Amnesty International was concerned about the “excessive use of force and abusive arrests” after media reports on the brutal actions of the security forces.

The Green MP Sandrine Rousseau called for the British King Charles III. to be unloaded, which is expected in France from Sunday to Tuesday. “So the Republican monarch Emmanuel Macron wants to receive Charles III., drive down the Champs Elysées with him and hold a state banquet in Versailles while the people demonstrate on the streets,” she complained. “Does this visit have priority? No, definitely not.”

Macron announced that in the coming weeks he would take care of presumably less conflictual issues, in particular “schools, health and the environment”.