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Hundreds of thousands march in France against far right and for new left Popular Front

HUNDREDS of thousands of people marched against the far right in Paris and other French cities at the weekend.

Trade unionists and supporters of the quickly assembled Popular Front — an alliance of left forces announced on Friday to contest snap elections called by President Emmanuel Macron — chanted “Liberty for all, equality for all, fraternity for all” in a variant of France’s famous revolutionary motto.

Police estimated 250,000 marchers through a rain-swept Paris on Saturday and deployed more than 20,000 officers to watch them. Thousands marched in dozens of other locations, with placards denouncing not just Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally — which leads in polls for the first round of parliamentary elections — but Mr Macron’s anti-refugee legislation. Cries of “Free Palestine” echoed through the streets.

The Popular Front brings together the revolutionary left in Jean-Luc Melenchon’s France Unbowed and the French Communist Party with the Greens and the Socialist Party. Its founding statement calls for “rupture” with the status quo in the first 100 days of government and declares that “the arrival of the National Rally in power is no longer inevitable.”

The head of the Socialists’ European Parliament lists, Raphael Glucksmann, sought in vain to impose centrist conditions on the new alliance  but has now announced support — while touring TV and radio to insist it will leave French foreign policy on support for Israel and Ukraine untouched and that Mr Melenchon would on no account become prime minister. Mr Macron’s position as president is not up for election.

But the mood of the rallies was defiant and hostile to the government as well as the far right, with Mr Melenchon having said the far-right National Rally’s lead candidate Jordan Bardella will be “Macron, but worse.” Already polls show Mr Macron’s Renaissance outfit trailing, with the Popular Front in second place, and the marches are part a mass mobilisation strategy to maximise the left vote.

A teenage marcher in Paris told reporters she would vote for the Popular Front rather than Renaissance to beat the far right because “it is the only political party that addresses racism and Islamophobia.”

 

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