Mass Protests in France Against Far-Right National Rally

Thousands March in Paris and Across France Ahead of Parliamentary Elections.

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PARIS – Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Paris and across various French cities on Saturday to protest against the far-right National Rally (RN) party ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Large-Scale Mobilization

In response to the RN’s significant gains in the recent European elections, the protests saw extensive mobilization.

Police anticipated 350,000 participants, with 21,000 officers deployed to manage the demonstrations.

Labor unions, student groups, and rights organizations orchestrated the rallies to challenge the anti-immigration and eurosceptic stance of the RN.

Protest Details and Participation

At least 150 marches were planned across cities such as Marseille, Toulouse, Lyon, and Lille.

In Paris alone, police reported 75,000 attendees.

The Paris march commenced at 1200 GMT from Place de La Republique, passing through Bastille square, and concluding at Nation.

The CGT union, quoted by BFM TV, estimated 250,000 marchers in Paris and a total of 640,000 across France, though police reported 217,000 demonstrators nationwide.

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Seven arrests were made in Paris during the protests.

Statements from Protest Leaders

Sophie Binet, the leader of the hard-left CGT union, expressed grave concerns about the potential of Jordan Bardella, the RN leader, becoming the next Prime Minister.

She emphasized the urgency of the protests to avert what she termed a disaster.

Carol-Ann Juste, a 22-year-old student and first-time protester, joined the march in Paris, reflecting the broadening base of opposition to the RN.

Unexpected Political Developments

Hollande’s Surprise Comeback

In an unexpected move, former French Socialist President Francois Hollande announced his candidacy for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Hollande, who served as president from 2012 to 2017, departed office with historically low popularity and remains a contentious figure within the radical left and among some Socialist leaders. Despite this, his recent high media profile suggests a strategic return to the political arena amidst the current volatile climate.

Context and Implications

The protests and Hollande’s candidacy underscore the heightened political tensions in France as it approaches crucial parliamentary elections.

The rise of the far-right RN and the mobilization against it highlight the deep divisions and stakes in the upcoming political contests.

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