Thousands take to streets in France to oppose Le Pen’s Far Right ahead of snap polls | World News - Hindustan Times
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Thousands take to streets in France to oppose Le Pen’s Far Right ahead of snap polls

PTI |
Jun 15, 2024 08:11 PM IST

President Macron announced snap elections to French Parliament after Le Pen led National Rally emerged as the largest party in European Parliament elections.

Anti-racism groups were joining French unions and a brand-new left-wing coalition in protests in Paris and across France on Saturday against the surging nationalist far right as frenzied campaigning is underway ahead of snap parliamentary elections.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen delivers a speech during a campaign rally, (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)(AP)
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen delivers a speech during a campaign rally, (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)(AP)

In Paris, those who fear that the elections will produce France's first far-right government since World War II will gather at Place de la Republique before marching through eastern Paris.

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The French Interior Ministry said 21,000 police and gendarmes would be deployed at protests across the country, with authorities expecting between 300,000 and 500,000 protesters nationwide.

In the French Riviera city of Nice, protesters marched down Jean Médecin Avenue, the city's main shopping street. An Associated Press journalist at the scene said she heard chants against the National Rally, its leader Jordan Bardella as well as against President Emmanuel Macron.

Protest organisers said 3,000 took part, while the police put the number at 2,500.

Nice is traditionally a conservative stronghold, but has over the past decade turned firmly in favour of Marine Le Pen's National Rally and her far-right rival Eric Zemmour.

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Crowds have been gathering daily ever since the anti-immigration National Rally made historic gains in the European Parliament elections on Sunday, crushing Macron's pro-business moderates and prompting him to dissolve the National Assembly.

New elections for the lower house of parliament were set in two rounds, for June 30 and July 7. Macron remains president until 2027 and in charge of foreign policy and defence, but his presidency would be weakened if the National Rally wins and takes power of the government and domestic policy.

"We need a democratic and social upsurge — if not the extreme right will take power,'' French unions said in a statement Friday. "Our Republic and our democracy are in danger.''

They noted that in Europe and across the world, extreme-right leaders have passed laws detrimental to women, the LGBTQ community, and people of colour.

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To prevent the National Rally party from winning the upcoming elections, left-wing parties finally agreed on Friday to set aside differences over the wars in Gaza and Ukraine and form a coalition. They urged French citizens to defeat the far right.

French opinion polls suggest the National Rally — whose founder has been repeatedly convicted of racism and antisemitism — is expected to be ahead in the first round of the parliamentary elections. The party came out on top in the European elections, garnering more than 30 per cent of the vote cast in France, almost twice as many votes as Macron's party Renaissance.

Macron's term is still on for three more years, and he would retain control over foreign affairs and defence regardless of the result of the French parliamentary elections.

But his presidency would be weakened if the National Rally wins, which could put its 28-year-old party leader Bardella on track to become the next prime minister, with authority over domestic and economic affairs. (AP) GSP

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.
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