Far-left political parties and unions took to the streets of Paris Saturday to protest austerity measures by President François Hollande, who has seen his approval rating sink to a new low.
Tens of thousands of people marched through the French capital shouting slogans aimed at Hollande’s government and brandishing signs with slogans such as “When you are leftist you support workers”.
French police said that about 25,000 joined the protest, while the French Communist Party estimated the turnout at 100,000. A parallel, but smaller march was held in the southern city of Marseille.
Hollande, a Socialist, is struggling to turn around a weak French economy, and hard-left parties have urged him to abandon his business friendly reforms and public sector deficit targets set by the European Union.
Hollande announced a so-called “responsibility pact” earlier this year, which aims to boost the profitability of French companies by cutting what they pay in taxes by some 30 billion euros.
“A 30 billion gift to big business is something monstrous in a period of austerity we live in,” Left Party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon told RTL radio ahead of the march.
However, the march was smaller than demonstrations in Paris last year by conservative parties and religious groups, which raged against Hollande for pushing through a gay marriage law.
Valls on the rise
Facing anger from both left and right flanks, and with unemployment hovering around 10 percent, Hollande has seen his popularity plummet among constituents.
His approval rating hit a new low of 18 percent, an opinion poll showed Sunday, despite his recent decision to reshuffle and streamline his government. Hollande has also struggled with scandal centred around his private life.
That figure stood in far contrast to the 58 percent approval rating claimed by his new prime minister, Manuel Valls.
The least popular French president for decades, Hollande's poll rating fell five points, dipping below 20 percent for the first time since coming to power in 2012.
In contrast Valls, who took office two weeks ago, becomes the most popular French premier at the start of his tenure, according to a study by the French polling institute Ifop, and which was published in the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche.
Valls is on the right of the ruling Socialist Party and has been often compared to former British premier Tony Blair for alienating more left-leaning party members.
(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AFP)
Date created : 2014-04-13