Thousands of people joined May Day protests in France on Sunday to demand social justice and wage increases and to pressure newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron to abandon his plan to raise the retirement age.
Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, but in Paris police intervened after “Black Bloc” anarchists dressed in black tried to erect a barricade on a street near La Republique square, police said. A McDonald’s restaurant and a real estate agency on Place Leon Blum were also looted, with windows smashed and rubbish bins set on fire.
The cost of living was the main issue of the presidential election campaign and it looks set to be equally prominent ahead of the June legislative elections that Macron’s party and his allies must win if they want to be able to implement their pro-business policies, including raising of retirement. age at 65 to 62
About 250 rallies were organized in Paris and other cities, including Lille, Nantes, Toulouse, and Marseille.
In the French capital, unionists were joined by political figures, mostly from the left, and climate activists.
Protesters carried banners reading “Retirement before arthritis”, “Retirement at 60, frozen prices” and “Macron go away”.
“The stronger the mobilization for this May Day, the more we can influence the government’s policies,” Philippe Martinez, leader of the hardline CGT union, told Reuters before the demonstrations.
“The government has to deal with the purchasing power problem by raising wages,” he said.
Macron won a new five-year presidential term after beating far-right challenger Marine Le Pen in last Sunday’s runoff election.
Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came third in the first round of the presidential vote, was attending the Paris march.
He wants to bring together a left-wing union, including the Greens, to dominate parliament and force Macron into an uncomfortable “cohabitation”, but this has so far failed to materialise.
“We will not make a single concession on pensions,” Melenchon said before the march began.
He said he still hoped that by tonight an agreement could be reached to build a new leftist “popular union.”
Unlike in previous years, Marine Le Pen did not lay a wreath in Paris before the statue of Joan of Arc, whom her party uses as a nationalist symbol. She was replaced by Rassemblement National interim president Jordan Bardella, who said Le Pen was preparing for legislative elections.
Le Pen urged voters in a video message to elect as many deputies from her party as possible in June so that she can “protect her purchasing power” and prevent Macron from carrying out a “harmful project for France and the French people.” “.
France will hold parliamentary elections on June 12 and 19.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)