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11 Jun, 2024 15:05

French unions call for mass protests against ‘far right’ (VIDEO)

A wave of demonstrations follows a defeat for Emmanuel Macron’s party in the EU Parliament election
French unions call for mass protests against ‘far right’ (VIDEO)

Thousands of people have protested across France against the growing influence of the National Rally (RN), ahead of a snap election called in the wake of the right-wing party’s strong showing in the EU Parliament vote.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced the early legislative election in a surprise move after the Renaissance alliance, led by his party, was trounced in Sunday’s vote by the movement associated with Marine Le Pen.

France’s largest unions – the CFDT, CGT, UNSA, FSU and Solidaires – issued its call for mass demonstrations over the weekend, and voiced alarm over the prospect of the anti-immigration, protectionist RN taking power.

The RN, led by 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, won around a third of French votes in the EU-wide ballot on 6-9 June, almost twice as many as Macron’s alliance.

If the RN wins a majority in the French legislative election – to be held in two rounds on June 30 and July 7 – President Macron will have to spend the remainder of his presidency, until 2027, with an opponent as prime minister, and will effectively cede control over domestic policy.

With less than three weeks to go before the vote, about 6,200 protesters marched in Toulouse and 3,000 in Paris, while over 2,200 turned out in Marseille, according to national media.

Rallies were also held in Nantes, Rennes, Bordeaux, Lyon, Grenoble and Strasbourg, with marchers displaying anti-RN banners, as well as Palestinian flags.

Earlier, activists published a statement calling “for people to demonstrate as widely as possible.”

“We need a democratic and social awakening. Otherwise, the far right will come to power,” the joint statement said. Unions have also called for an increase in salaries and pensions, and a reversal of unemployment insurance reforms as part of the “awakening.”

In Paris, the crowds vandalized election signs and sprayed graffiti on walls, with messages including ‘Ni Macron, ni Bardella’ (‘Neither Macron, nor Bardella’), local reporters said.

Outside France, the EU parliamentary election saw a major shift towards conservative-leaning parties.