Pension reform: with 1.27 million demonstrators, a record falls… in appearance

Pension reform with 127 million demonstrators a record falls in

New record. Since the Ministry of the Interior quantified the participation in demonstrations, that is to say since 1962, no social movement has brought together as many people as this day of January 31, 2023. According to the public authorities, 1.272 million people marched through the streets of France. The previous record for a social movement was set on October 12, 2010, during a day of action against the pension reform wanted by Nicolas Sarkozy, known as the Woerth law, with 1.23 million participants. However, this day did not remain in the annals, and for good reason: despite this record, the project will be voted on, without recourse to 49-3, and the law will indeed come into force in November 2010. The proof that the mobilization does not not all. Moreover, in 1968 or in 1995, the demonstrators were less numerous in the streets but the movement had more disturbed the country because of massive strikes.

It is necessary to specify “social” movement because, in reality, in France, in spite of our rich and tumultuous union history, the most unifying demonstrations do not relate to work. The record for all categories is held by the day of January 11, 2015. On that day, the Republican march in response to the Charlie Hebdo, Montrouge and Hyper Kosher attacks brought together at least 3.7 million people according to the Ministry of the Interior. Three times more than at the height of the challenge to the Woerth law. Unheard of under the Fifth Republic, and most likely, in the history of France. By way of comparison, the Fête de la Fédération, a historic moment of national reconciliation, on July 14, 1790, brought together “only” 400,000 people at the Champ-de-Mars, according to Max Gallo. On January 11, 2015, there were at least 1.5 million in Paris according to Le Monde (because of the crowds, the police headquarters gave up counting the Parisian procession precisely).


© / Art Press

The record for a Parisian gathering is perhaps held by the funeral of Victor Hugo. In her historical novel Victor Hugo just died, journalist Judith Perrignon, who worked from historical archives, puts the number of participants at 2 million. A questionable figure, but which shows that the most impressive gatherings are not always devoted to social movements. The “number two” and “number three” in the ranking of the largest gatherings of the Fifth Republic also concern atypical events. On July 12, 1998, 1.5 million people (figures from the Interior!) spontaneously marched on the Champs-Élysées to celebrate the victory of the French team in the final of the football world cup. Four years later, on May 1, 2002, 1.3 million people demonstrated against the presence of Jean-Marie Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election.

Police figures… more favorable than those of the unions

These analyzes probably have a bias: they do not take into account the figures of the unions. Quite surprisingly, however, the mobilization of this January 31 is more impressive if we take into account the figures of the police than if we consider those of the central trade unions. If, according to the Ministry of the Interior, it breaks a record for social movements and ranks fourth in the fifth Republic “all categories combined”, this day of January 31 only points to seventh position in social mobilizations. more followed according to the unions.

With 2.8 million demonstrators claimed by the CGT, the movement of January 31 would indeed be exceeded by four days of action against the Woerth law (between 3 million and 3.5 million participants each time… according to the unions) , as well as by March 28, 2006, a day of mobilization against the first job contract (CPE, 3 million demonstrators claimed), but also that of March 19, 2009, which aimed to defend purchasing power in times of crisis financial (3 million also claimed).

Police and unions will soon have a new opportunity to open their archive box: two new days of action are announced by the centrals, Tuesday 7 and Saturday 11 February.