Anti-government street protests mark Hollande's first year anniversary

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to mark Socialist President Francois Hollande's first year in office by accusing him of turning his back on the left.

On the eve of the anniversary of his May 6 win last year over right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy, the Communist-backed Left Front gathered supporters for the march from the Bastille, the iconic square of the French Revolution.

Thousands also gathered meanwhile for separate protests in Paris and other cities to oppose the government's plans to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption by gay couples.

The demonstrations come with polls showing Hollande as the most unpopular president in modern French history. Many voters are angered by an economy on the edge of recession and unemployment hitting a 16-year high.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, the Left Front's firebrand candidate in last year's presidential vote, called the protest in Paris last month at the height of a scandal over Hollande's ex-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac being charged with tax fraud.

Melenchon told the crowd -- estimated by organisers at 180,000 but by police at 30,000 -- that the Socialist government had betrayed its supporters on the left.

"We do not want the world of finance in power! We do not accept the politics of austerity!" he told protesters waving the red flags of left-wing movements.

In an interview Sunday with newspaper Le Parisien, Melenchon called on Hollande to "return to the left, where he was when he was elected".

He accused Hollande of contributing to Europe's economic crisis by focusing on "the interests of shareholders, of big business and of European austerity policies, to the detriment of the workers."

Melenchon called for a government reshuffle with himself or Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg -- considered one of Hollande's most left-wing ministers -- as prime minister.

Opponents of gay marriage meanwhile rallied in major cities in a bid to force Hollande to back down from signing a bill approved in parliament last month.

The bill, which is also facing a constitutional challenge, sparked months of demonstrations across the country, with some descending into violence.

It has been one of the most controversial reforms of Hollande's first year in office, with right-wing opponents demanding the issue be put to a referendum.

Thousand of protesters rallied in cities including Paris, Lyon, Rennes, Lille and Montpellier to demand the bill be struck down.

In Paris, where police said about 15,000 took part in a rally, organisers said it was still possible for the bill to be defeated.

"There have been several cases in recent history of laws that were approved and then withdrawn. We are not without hope, on the contrary, we think that Mr. Hollande will in the end listen to the French people," said Ludovine de la Rochere, the head of the "Manif Pour Tous" (Protest for All) group that has organised demonstrations.

Sunday's protests follow another demonstration on Wednesday that brought hundreds of supporters of the far-right National Front to the streets of Paris, as a poll showed its leader Marine Le Pen would come second to Sarkozy if an election were held now, far ahead of Hollande in third place.

Since his election, Hollande's approval rating has fallen faster and further than any other president's since the founding of France's Fifth Republic in 1958.

The government has said it will hold a meeting on Monday to set its agenda for the months to come, with the focus on tackling unemployment, boosting economic growth and controlling public finances.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician
    MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician

    Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is grateful for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s praise and presidential endorsement, but says he is not a politician. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the search for The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines 2015 Wednesday night, Pangilinan dismissed the idea of running for president in the 2016 elections. “I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary business person,” he added. Santiago endorsed Pangilinan as a presidential candidate …

  • No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP
    No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not suspending its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless groups during the Holy Week, an official said yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP leadership is leaving it up to area and division commanders whether to raise the alert status in preparation for the Holy Week. Those deployed in areas where there are ongoing law enforcement operations against terrorist groups …

  • Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP
    Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers. In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon. The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them. The CA ruling said …

  • Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl
    Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl

    Retire and invest in real estate in the Philippines, especially now that the country has made it to the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. This is the message being spread by the Philippine embassy in Washington, with Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. leading the refrain in meetings with various Filipino-American communities in the US. Cuisia recently met with Filipino communities in San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas. In his talks, Cuisia said that an affordable cost of living as …

  • PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson
    PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson

    The stigma of being a namesake of the principal suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre did not prevent Cadet First Class Andal Ampatuan III from entering and graduating from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Ampatuan III, now with a rank of police inspector, is a grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. The younger Ampatuan was among the 246 graduates of the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015. Ampatuan III’s mother is Bai Rebecca Ampatuan, a daughter of the …

  • Philippines says China rushing construction in disputed sea
    Philippines says China rushing construction in disputed sea

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' top diplomat said Thursday that China has been rushing construction projects, including massive land reclamation, in the disputed South China Sea in hopes of forestalling any legal moves against its vast territorial claims. …

  • Aquino takes responsibility for bungled mission in Philippines, but no apology
    Aquino takes responsibility for bungled mission in Philippines, but no apology

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Thursday took responsibility for a bungled security operation in January that left 44 police commandos dead, but offered no public apology for the clash that has become his biggest political crisis in years. Since the secret mission, Aquino's approval and trust ratings have plunged to their lowest level in five years, and a peace process with the country's largest Muslim rebel group has stalled. "To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt …

  • Marshall rolls out new headphone, speaker lines in PHL

    Established music brand Marshall is rolling out new headphone and speaker lines in the Philippine market. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options