As French transport strikes disrupted Christmas travel, President Emmanuel Macron announced that he would give up his own generous presidential pension in an attempt to calm anger over politicians’ privileges.
Rail strikes, continuing for a third week, played havoc with travel plans in France as people struggled to get home for the holidays.
In a gesture evidently intended to placate mounting public anger, Macron became the first president in more than 50 years to give up the automatic pension of more than €6,000 a month that all French leaders receive after leaving office, regardless of age or wealth.
The symbolic move was acknowledged by Le Parisien as ‘breaking with a dusty tradition of republican monarchy’, but the president’s critics on the left dismissed it as a PR stunt.
The rail strikes have arisen over government plans to alter the French pensions system.
The BBC reported that, despite the strikes, the government is insisting that it will press on with unifying the pensions system, arguing that reform is crucial to ensuring that pensions remain financially viable as the population ages.
[Picture: Remi Jouan, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70160007]