“All anger has been trained on him personally and he has no go-betweens around him. Never has France been ruled by so few men and women,” said Bruno Retailleau, head of the opposition Right-wing Republicans in the Senate.
One potential way out of the current impasse, say analysts, would be to extend an olive branch to Laurent Berger, head of the moderate CFDT union, France’s largest. On Friday, Mr Berger urged Mr Macron to put the reform “on hold for six months” to allow tensions to cool down.
But the president slapped him down, saying that while he was “at unions’ disposal” to discuss issues relating to labour, the pension reform must now run its democratic course in the hands of the Constitutional Council, France’s highest constitutional court, which must rule within a month whether it is viable.
Members of the Macron camp reportedly told Le Monde that they were “stupefied” at the French president’s dismissive tone regarding Mr Berger, who he accused during a TV interview on Wednesday of offering“no compromise proposals”.
Rather than seeking to calm nerves, analysts said that the French president appeared bent on spoiling the protest movement by styling himself as the champion of law and order against rising anarchy and “agitators”.