Macron faces resistance abroad as well as at home as his visit to the Netherlands is marred by protest

People hold up a banner reading "President of violence" in protest during a speech by Macron in the Netherlands
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Protests noisily disrupted French president Emmanuel Macron during a state visit to the Netherlands on 11 April. Banner-waving demonstrators shouted “Where is French democracy?” as Macron gave a speech at the Hague in Amsterdam. These referred to the uprising in France over the government’s enforced pension reforms.

The demonstrators stood in an upper tier of the theatre, shouting: “You have millions of protesters in the streets”. They also held up a banner that read “President of Violence and Hypocrisy”:

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After security guards removed them, Macron said people who try to undermine laws passed by elected governments “put democracy at risk”. He then cited the 2021 US Capitol riots and a 2023 attack on the Brazilian Congress, both of which were perpetrated by right-wing nationalists and white supremacists.

The opposition didn’t end there, however. Protesters confronted Macron elsewhere on his visit, too:

Opposition followed Macron into day two

Macron’s Dutch visit continued on 12 April. He visited a sold-out exhibition of painter Johannes Vermeer’s works at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Then, he engaged in talks with the Netherlands’ prime minister Mark Rutte on a canal boat. He also viewed a science park and signed a “pact for innovation” focusing on cooperation in semiconductors, quantum physics, and energy.

However, protesters were also present on Macron’s second day:

The visit was also clouded by a row over controversial comments that Macron made about Taiwan, the US, and China. Macron said in an interview with media – including Politico and French business daily Les Echos – that Europe should not be “followers” of the US or China when it came to Taiwan. However, the Élysée Palace insisted that the president had never called for Europe to keep an “equidistance” from the US and China.

French protests continue

People throughout France are still striking and protesting following Macron’s forcing-through of the pension reform. Sky News reported on 11 April that people had blocked power stations across the country, leading to a loss of 8.2 gigawatts of France’s power supply. That is equivalent to 16% of the country’s total. Meanwhile, on 12 April, the city of Nantes faced blockades across its motorway system in an actions that French autonomous media platform Contre Attaque called “Operation Dead City”.

Unions are planning for a twelfth day of national strikes on 13 April.

Featured image via AFP/YouTube

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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