May Day in France overshadowed by tense, unpredicted presidential race

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-02 05:25:18|Editor: ying
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People attend an annual march for International Labor Day in Paris, capital of France, on May 1, 2017. (Xinhua/Chen Yichen)

PARIS, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of French people took to the streets in many cities to mark the traditional May Day, with some trade unions seeking to make the day a national mobilization to block the far-right National Front from taking power on May 7.

The outcome of the first round of France's most uncertain election on April 23 sent centrist novice Emmanuel Macron and anti-Europe and immigration candidate Marine Le Pen to a final round, a duel that rocked the country's political mainstream and smashed the efforts to forge a Republican front against the extreme right.

For this year's May Day, French trade unions called for massive protests but with dispersed order. In Paris, CFDT and Unsa organized a rally calling for a "Republican vote" against Le Pen.

"We refuse ambiguity. Abstention is a half voice for (Marine) Le Pen, we will vote (Emmanuel) Macron," Laurent Begy, head of CFDT said.

"We have to push back the FN and continue to build solidarity in France," he added.

Meanwhile, a second rally for "neither Le Pen, nor Macron" took place in Paris, with GCT, FO and Sud unions refusing to endorse any of the top two candidates.

Across the country, 280,000 protestors took part in the rally, CGT union said, while police numbered 142,000.

In Paris, 80,000 people joined unions call for massive turnout while officials' figure stood at 30,000. However, the march turned violent after a group of hooded youth threw projectile and Molotov cocktails at riot police who replied by using tear gas.

In a statement, Paris prefecture said six police officers were wounded, with two seriously burnt.

Five individuals were arrested, with two of them being taken into police custody on charges of having prohibited arms and violence against order forces, it added.

Interior Minister Matthias Fekl firmly condemned the "intolerable violence against police officers," pledging to do everything to identify and arrest those who threw projectile and firebombs at riot police.

In a context of high terror risk, 9,000 policemen, gendarmes and soldiers were mobilized on Monday with 2,000 of them deployed to secure protests in the French capital, according to Paris prefecture.


Macron and Le Pen, the two frontrunners who enter the final straight in the race to the Elysee Palace, both used May Day to attack each other during meetings held in the French capital.

Enjoying an unprecedented public support, the defiant far-right leader Le Pen told a gathering in Villepinte, a northern suburb of Paris, "On May 7, I ask you all to stand tall against finance, arrogance and the rain of money."

"Today, the enemy of the French people is always the world of finance. But this time, it has a name. It has a face. It has a party, and it presented his candidacy. And all dream of seeing him elected. Its name is Emmanuel Macron," she said.

In her speech, Le Pen lashed out at her rival as the face of establishment who "is just (outgoing president) Francois Hollande who wants to stay and who is hanging on to power like a barnacle."

Firing back, Macron described the National Front, as "the anti-France, what this party defends, announces, proposes, is the inevitable collapse of what France has made France, the denial of our values."

Instead, he pledged "In face of insults and obscenity of the National Front, we will refound the country."

"I will fight up until the very last second not only against her program but also her idea of what constitutes democracy and the French Republic," he told thousands of supporters.

A daily Opinion-way poll on Monday showed Macon beating Le Pen on Sunday run-off with 61 percent of the vote against 39 percent.

The two frontrunners will face off in a televised debate on May 3.

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