France takes to the streets as disaffected voters turn to far-right

 

Paris

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of France in traditional May Day rallies marked by calls for an end to President François Hollande’s austerity policies, which many blamed for record numbers of jobless.

But in contrast to previous years, the main unions are divided over strategy – each organising separate anti-austerity marches in Paris and other cities.

The Communist-led CGT accuses the Socialist-dominated CFDT of selling out to business leaders by backing a reform bill that provides greater  flexibility to management.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a far-left politician who broke with the Socialist party and who held a separate rally in the French capital, condemned Mr Hollande for “dividing the unions, and the left. What a success!”.

France’s 12.1 per cent unemployment rate is the highest in the eurozone – a total of 3.2 million French workers without jobs.

Opinion polls show that the extremist National Front, whose leader, Marine Le Pen, addressed supporters in Paris, is benefiting from the disaffection of voters who reject the proposed solutions of the mainstream political parties.

Ms Le Pen attacked the policies of both the Socialist President, and his right-wing predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, in an hour-long speech to a few thousand supporters. She pledged to deliver the French from “the shadows of Europe”, accusing the government of kowtowing to Brussels and Berlin. The National Front, she said, represented “a ray of hope”. “We are the centre of gravity of French politics.”

The marches are a foretaste of a month of union-led protests aimed at pressuring Mr Hollande’s unpopular government to change course. The French President, whose approval  ratings have slumped to record lows since his election a year ago, is due to discuss economic policy in Brussels on 15 May.

“The government’s policy has a single goal: winning the jobs battle,” the President told a group of 17 workers at the Elysée Palace to whom he awarded Labour Day medals.

Speaking after a meeting with new Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, Mr Hollande promised he would undertake “maximum efforts” to curb unemployment, particularly among the young. But he stressed that for growth to return “we need the whole of Europe.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital