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One riot police officer engulfed in flames in Paris, France, on May 1.
One riot police officer engulfed in flames in Paris, France, on May 1.

Violence Scars France’s Pre-Election May Day Marches

As tens of thousands of union activists took to the streets for May Day demonstrations, six police officers were hurt in clashes in Paris

Violence Scars France’s Pre-Election May Day Marches

Traditional May 1 union marches turned violent in France on Monday and presidential election frontrunner, Emmanuel Macron, attacked far-right rival Marine Le Pen, highlighting the divisions six days before the runoff.
Six police officers were hurt in clashes in Paris between masked youths throwing Molotov cocktails and riot police who responded with tear gas, as tens of thousands of union activists took to the streets for May Day demonstrations, AFP reported.
Interior Minister Matthias Fekl condemned the violence and said one officer was seriously burned on the hand while another had serious burns to the face, without saying which was the officer in the photograph.
Reacting to the scenes, far-right presidential candidate Le Pen tweeted: “This is the sort of mess ... that I no longer want to see on our streets.”
In a feisty speech, Macron told thousands of his supporters he would defend “free democracy” if voters choose him on Sunday after Le Pen had urged voters to reject “the world of finance, of arrogance, of money as king” she said her opponent embodied.
The traditional union-led marches underlined the conspicuous absence of the united front shown in 2002 when Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie shocked the country by reaching the runoff.
On this day 15 years ago, some 1.3 million people, including 400,000 in Paris, took to the streets of France in union-led demonstrations to protest against the founder of the National Front (FN).
That show of force, coupled with a political closing of ranks, helped the center-right’s Jacques Chirac inflict a crushing defeat on Le Pen senior.
This time, with leftwing candidates eliminated in the first round, the left is deeply divided over the choice between Le Pen’s 48-year-old daughter and Macron, a 39-year-old former investment banker.

  Le Pen Is Anti-Workers
Two unions, CFDT and Unsa, have called for their members to back Macron.
But while three other more leftwing unions, including the biggest, CGT, have called for demonstrations against Le Pen’s vision of French identity, they have stopped short of backing Macron whose economically liberal outlook worries many members.
Some militants have formed a movement they have called “Social Front” to block both candidates.
Le Pen hit back that the unions “are not defending workers’ interests, they are looking after their own interests”.
Macron is currently favored to become France’s youngest-ever president, leading Le Pen by 19 points in the polls, but she has emerged as an effective campaigner.
Speaking at a convention center in northern Paris, Macron, however, said Le Pen “had fed off worry and hate for years”.
Macron said he was aware that “many people will vote for me to avoid having the National Front”.
“I say to them that I am completely aware that on May 7, I will be doing more than defending a political program—I will be leading the fight for the republic and for a free democracy,” he said to roars of approval from supporters.
Le Pen took her campaign on Monday to the working-class Paris suburb of Villepinte where the first speaker was Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a Euroskeptic from outside the FN who Le Pen has said will be her prime minister if she wins on Sunday.
She is hoping to capture some of the 1.7 million votes he won in the first round, although his support for Le Pen has divided his own party.
“It’s a choice between France and finance,” Dupont-Aignan said in a jibe at Macron.
Highlight: In a feisty speech, Macron told thousands of his supporters he would defend “free democracy” if voters choose him on Sunday after Le Pen urged voters to reject “the world of finance, of arrogance, of money as king” she said her opponent embodied

 

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