>> Thousands of retirees took to the streets of Paris protesting their much younger president, Emmanuel Macron. He came to power by bucking the establishment political parties, stating he stood for neither the left nor the right wing. But not having a traditional voting base behind him means his welfare and labor reforms are coming with a price.
Reuters' Ingrid Melander is there.>> The problem for Macron is for his election last year, three in four pensioners voted for him and now his popularity among them has dropped quite substantially for barely one in two supporting him. And it's not a problem with it now, because there's no election, but next year there's European elections.
The year after that there's the local elections and Macron has to count on them for elections for victory in those ballots.>> Macron's also been criticized for raising some taxes and not others, particularly concerning the wealthy. Loss of support hasn't stopped him from waging battle on another front though, reforming France's national rail system and its powerful unions.
He says that he's trying to make the rails more profitable and would include taking out a union clause that can guarantee a worker's job for life and early retirement.>>
]>> Yet similar fights have crippled some past presidencies, like this rail protest in 1995 that brought Paris to a standstill.
>> Emmanuel Macron and his government say they're not going to back down. So I say we know this is not popular among part of the electorates, but the reforms need to be done. And we were elected for them and we're not gonna back down. But when on strike, always has a potential of being quite big in France so Macron's government will keep a close eye on that.
And pensioners, they're an important electorate so we'll clearly keep an eye on that too.>> Polls show that most voters support Macron's proposals to the rail system but he's still following a path few predecessors have dared to tread.