Thousands of leftist supporters march through Paris in protest over Hollande's first year


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The Independent Online

Tens of thousands of supporters of leftist parties marched through central Paris today to express disappointment with President Francois Hollande’s first year in power, criticizing the leader for reneging on his promises to rein in the world of finance and enact economic stimulus.

Mr Hollande, a Socialist, rose to the presidency last May, promising to spare France the austerity measures imposed elsewhere in Europe. The French government has largely avoided deep spending cuts and big tax hikes, and instead, has nibbled around the edges of its deficit.

Still, France’s economy has continued to deteriorate, with growth stagnating and unemployment rising above 10 per cent.

Leftists who took the streets yesterday - largely from parties to the left of Hollande’s mainstream Socialist Party - rejected the notion that Hollande had spared France a worse fate.

“Salaries are frozen. They continue to reduce hiring in the public sector,” said Brigitte Blang, a 64-year-old teacher from eastern France. “We’re waiting for true leftist policies. There’s money in the coffers!”

Paris police said 30,000 people showed up, although protest organizers said there were 180,000.

Hollande and his ministers have pleaded for more time to allow their policies to take hold.