MUTTERSHOLTZ, France – President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that protestors throwing pots and pans would not help France move forward as he traveled the country in the hopes of putting an end to his contentious pension reform.
Pot-bashing, a long-standing form of protest in France, began during Macron’s address to the nation on Monday evening, following his signing of the measure into law over the weekend.
Earlier in the day, police pushed back hundreds of protesters pounding kitchenware ahead of the president’s visit in the eastern Alsace village of Muttersholtz.
“Saucepans will not allow France to move forward,” Macron remarked during a visit to a local wood factory.
“The reality across the country is that it is not just those making noise with pans or grumbling.”
“You will always see me with people… I have to keep going,” he continued.
During the three months following the announcement of the very controversial pension reform, whose centerpiece feature is raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, the president made very few public appearances to speak to voters.
Political opponents and labor organizations have urged demonstrators to continue their anti-law campaign and have called for a fresh day of mass demonstration on May 1.
Earlier on Wednesday, some a hundred members from the CGT and CFDT unions gathered in front of the mayor’s office in Muttersholtz, making noise with frying pans and pan lids, as well as whistles and horns.
Officers used force to push them 200 meters (650 feet) away after multiple orders from police to leave the area where local authorities had forbidden demonstrations.
On Tuesday evening, some 300 demonstrators protested Macron’s pension amendments, which were signed into law last week, during a private trip to Saint-Denis, northeast of Paris.
“People will make themselves heard, but that’s part of the moment,” a presidential aide told reporters on Wednesday, adding that there will be “expressions of anger, most likely, and possibly support.”
The images are reminiscent of Macron’s excursions throughout France during the so-called “Yellow Vest” protests of 2018-19, during which the president was frequently greeted by angry hecklers or demonstrators.
During a visit to a tiny village in southeastern France in 2021, he was hit in the face by a 28-year-old unemployed mediaeval history enthusiast.
Macron is scheduled to visit a school in the southern Herault region on Thursday, following his visit to a construction company in Muttersholtz on Wednesday.