Politics

France Mobilizes Hundreds of Thousands in Nationwide Protests Against National Rally

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets across France in a nationwide protest against the National Rally, with significant youth participation and calls for unity against far-right policies.

Large-Scale Demonstrations Across France Against National Rally

This past Saturday, France saw large-scale demonstrations against the National Rally (RN), particularly drawing significant crowds in Paris. Despite expectations of 50,000 to 100,000 participants in the capital, by the end of the day, police headquarters reported 75,000 demonstrators, while the CGT estimated around 250,000. The aim was to replicate the vigorous atmosphere of previous mobilizations such as the pension reform protests of 2023 and the 'yellow vest' movements of 2018-2019, but the overall mood was relatively calm.

Paris March: Route and Participants

The Paris march began at Place de la République at 2 p.m., proceeded through major boulevards and reached Place de la Nation by around 4:45 p.m. Sophie Binet, head of the CGT, encouraged right-wing voters to join the movement against the RN by emphasizing the need for unity against fascism. Despite these efforts, the majority of participants were left-wing activists, showcasing slogans such as 'No neighborhood for the fascists, no fascists for our neighborhoods' and 'Bardella get out; the Republic is not yours'.

Young people and student groups like Fage, Unef, and young environmentalists were particularly active in the demonstration. Rose, an 18-year-old student, expressed her hope that the mobilization would show widespread opposition to the far right in power. Similarly, French literature professor Alice voiced her concerns for her work environment and the discriminatory policies that could be enacted by a far-right government.

While there were minor damages, such as graffiti and impacts on windows, the level of disruption was minimal compared to previous 'yellow vest' protests. According to police, four arrests were made over the course of the day.

Nationally, around 200 demonstrations took place, with an estimated 300,000 to 350,000 participants. Major cities like Toulouse, Marseille, Rennes, and Lyon also drew substantial crowds. Over 21,000 police and gendarmes were deployed to manage the events and prevent potential violence from 'disruptive and violent opportunistic elements'.

  • The atmosphere of the demonstrations notably lacked the vibrancy seen in other major protests in recent French history. Despite the significant turnout, the events unfolded peacefully, with few reports of major incidents or damages.
  • The call for unity against the RN was echoed across various labor unions and political groups, emphasizing the need to oppose the divisive policies posed by the far-right party. However, internal political disagreements within the left-wing groups were evident, impacting the cohesion and impact of the protests.
  • Youth involvement was seen as a critical component of the demonstrations, reflecting widespread concern about the potential implications of a far-right government on education and civil liberties.
Daily Reports
Refs: | Le Parisien | Le Figaro |

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