As European austerity measures take shape, protests that have real economic impact and at times turn violent are erupting country-by-country.
In France, the response to the government’s plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 has sparked nearly a week of national strikes and protests, causing major problems for airports, gas stations, public services and police forces.
With the French Senate set to vote on Wednesday on final changes to the pension system, scores of protesters are taking to the streets, clashing with police, shutting down schools and clogging transportation systems. Joining the protests are French youths who are thought to join the demonstrations for the opportunity to lash out at police. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged to crack down on “troublemakers” to ensure that public order is guaranteed.
The majority of protests, which have been planned since September, are a direct result of the reduction in minimum retirement age, which is among the lowest in Europe.
Click ahead for scenes from the French protests.
By Paul Toscano and Florence Zaitoun
Posted 19 Oct 2010