Thousands of people took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to protest against François Hollande's first year in power, accusing him of betraying the left, as the latest poll shows him to be the most unpopular president in modern French history.
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to mark Socialist President François Hollande's first year in office by accusing him of turning his back on the left.
On the eve of the anniversary of Hollande's May 6 win last year over right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy, the Communist-backed Left Front gathered supporters for a march starting at the Bastille, the iconic square of the French Revolution.
Hollande has 'lost support on the left without picking up any on the right'
The demonstrations come with polls showing Hollande as the most unpopular president in modern French history. Many voters are angered by an economy on the edge of recession and unemployment hitting a 16-year high.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Left Front's firebrand candidate in last year's vote, called the protest in Paris last month at the height of a scandal over Hollande's ex-budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac being charged with tax fraud.
Mélenchon told the crowd the Socialist government had betrayed its supporters on the left.
"We do not want the world of finance in power! We do not accept the politics of austerity!" he told protesters waving the red flags of left-wing movements.
“We came to be heard and to show the people that the left won’t be fooled!” said Jacky, a demonstrator in his forties, from Paris’s suburbs.
The word on his and everyone else’s lips was “disillusionment.”
“We elected a president from the left, we want left-wing politics!” some sang.
“The French people don’t want austerity!” others exclaimed.
In an interview on Sunday with newspaper Le Parisien, Mélenchon called on Hollande to "return to the left, where he was when he was elected".
He accused Hollande of contributing to Europe's economic crisis by focusing on "the interests of shareholders, of big business and of European austerity policies, to the detriment of the workers."
Mélenchon called for a government reshuffle with himself or Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg -- considered one of Hollande's most left-wing ministers -- as prime minister.
Sunday's protests follow another demonstration on Wednesday that brought hundreds of supporters of the far-right National Front to the streets of Paris, as a poll showed its leader Marine Le Pen would come second to Sarkozy if an election were held now, far ahead of Hollande in third place.
Since his election, Hollande's approval rating has fallen faster and further than any other president's since the founding of France's Fifth Republic in 1958.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Thousands mark Hollande's first year with protests
© All photos by Anne-Diandra Louarn
The procession left the iconic Bastille square at 2.00pm and headed to Nation.
Hélène Pottier, Benoit Montané and Thomas Solgado, three extreme left-wing militants, are angry with Hollande for not upholding left-wing policies.
A few green flags in a sea of red. Vincent Madeline, of the Europe Ecology – The Greens party said “This demonstration must and will be useful”.
Andrée Dougoud voted for Hollande in 2012. “The republic is no longer a democracy. I am extremely disappointed.”
Despite a 10-hour bus journey, this group of people from the Var in southern France, had lost none of their zeal. "We couldn’t miss this demonstration. Hollande is not carrying out left-wing policies, he has betrayed his voters, betrayed Socialist ideology" they said.
Gérard Cazorla, the union representative of CGT (General Confederation of Labour) at Fralib was there to fight against the closure of his factory. “We thought that Hollande was going to bring about change in society but he hasn’t.”
Despite the festive atmosphere, the Left Front’s security team was at the ready. A security chief who wished to remain anonymous, said “We have a system in place to handle at least 150,000 people.”
Date created : 2013-05-05