France: Tens of thousands rally against President Emmanuel Macron in Paris | News | DW | 05.05.2018
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France: Tens of thousands rally against President Emmanuel Macron in Paris

Marking one year since the president's inauguration, the far-left France Insoumise (France Unbowed) called for rallies in Paris, Toulouse and Bordeaux to protest reforms. A carnival atmosphere dominated the events.

Protesters in Paris

Critics have compared Macron to France's 17th century "Sun King"

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Paris on Saturday to rally against French President Emmanuel Macron and sweeping reforms that have characterized his administration. The far-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) organizers said 160,000 people were protesting. Police said around 40,000 had taken part.

There were images of Macron as the Emperor Napoleon, Dracula and Jupiter to represent the rally participants' opinion of the French president.

Read more: Emmanuel Macron: French savior or tormentor?

'Down with the president'

  • Protesters gathered in cities across France, including Paris, Toulouse and Bordeaux. Students and striking public train workers, among others, carried signs reading: "No to a social coup d'etat" and "Down with the president of the rich."
  • Participants were asked to attend in a festive mood after violent protests earlier in the week.
  • La France Insoumise leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, a former presidential candidate, led one of the rallies.
  • About 2,000 police officers were on the streets of Paris to monitor the protests.
  • Hooded protesters damaged a radio broadcast van by throwing a smoke bomb inside the vehicle, according to radio station France Info. No one was injured. A police officer was slightly injured after someone threw a missile at him, according to a police spokesman.

Read more: Is Emmanuel Macron Europe's new Angela Merkel?

French President Emmanuel Macron

Macron has pushed through economic reforms that workers fear could undermine their rights

Macron's controversial reforms: The protests are the latest expression of opposition to Macron's planned reforms to kick-start the French economy after years of tepid growth and stubbornly high unemployment. The centrist president wants to overhaul the country's welfare system and public sector, including France's state-owned railway company SNCF.

May 1's shadow: The government deployed 2,000 police to observe the demonstrations after an estimated 1,000 people vandalized shops and cars in Paris during May 1 protests. More than 100 people were arrested after those rallies.

Read more: Emmanuel Macron: A republican 'Sun King' whose popularity is not setting

France's new 'Sun King': Some French commentators have criticized Macron for his leadership style. After the president referred to the French as "my people" in an interview in December, French newspaper Le Monde compared him to French absolute monarch Louis XIV, the "Sun King," who ruled for 72 years in the 17th and early 18th century.

Where was Monsieur Macron? The French president was on the other side of the world on Saturday. He was visiting the Pacific island of New Caledonia, a French territory.

Read more: Emmanuel Macron: 'France is back as a European reformer'

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