Tear gas in France as Le Pen, Macron hold May Day rallies

2017-05-01 22:49
Emmanuel Macron waves to his supporters during a campaign rally in Paris. (Christophe Ena, AP)

Emmanuel Macron waves to his supporters during a campaign rally in Paris. (Christophe Ena, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - With just six days until a French presidential runoff that could define Europe's future, far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron held high-stakes rallies on Monday that overlapped with May Day marches and underscored the fact that jobs are voters' No 1 concern.

France votes for a new president on Sunday, a ballot being watched closely by financial markets and France's neighbours as a test of the global populist wave.

While Le Pen got an endorsement from her father on Monday, Macron held an emotional meeting with a Moroccan man whose father died years ago when he was thrown off a Paris bridge by far-right skinheads.

A May Day march attended by thousands of people in Paris was disrupted as scores of hooded youths threw gasoline bombs at riot police in full gear, who responded with tear gas and truncheons. One police officer was seen spraying a troublemaker in the face.

While supporters from fringe movements often disrupt protest marches in the French capital, they usually don't carry signs. Some of the violent protesters at the May Day event had signs referring to the presidential election and expressing dissatisfaction with both candidates in Sunday's runoff election.

"Not one or the other; instead it's the people's self-defence" read one sign.

Praise

Workers in the union-organised march want to block Le Pen from getting into power, but offered differing methods on Monday.

Some urged French workers to vote for Macron. Others refused to support the centrist, including far-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who was eliminated in the first-round vote on April 23.

Wanted or not, Le Pen was praised by her 88-year-old father Jean-Marie, the co-founder of her National Front party. She expelled him from the party in 2015 after he reiterated anti-Semitic comments.

In a speech before a gilded Paris statue of his heroine, Joan of Arc, Jean-Marie Le Pen urged French voters to back his daughter in Sunday's runoff.

"She is not Joan of Arc, but she accepts the same mission... France," Jean-Marie Le Pen said.

He denounced Macron as a "masked Socialist" backed by the highly unpopular Socialist President Francois Hollande. Macron once served as Hollande's economy minister.

"He wants to dynamise the economy, but he is among those who dynamited it," the elder Le Pen said, referring to France's stagnant economy and jobless rate of around 10%.

Marine Le Pen, speaking in a hall north of Paris, also skewered Macron, a former investment banker, calling him a "puppet" of the world of finance and Islamic fundamentalists. Cheers of "Marine President!" and anti-immigrant chants rose up in the crowd of thousands for Le Pen's rally.

Pro-business policies

Le Pen, who hopes to mimic Donald Trump's election victory, compared Macron to Hillary Clinton. She also sought repeatedly to puncture Macron's argument that he represents change, calling him Hollande's lapdog, the candidate of "the caviar left".

She also claimed that his pro-business policies would not create jobs but send them abroad and leave French workers hungry.

Macron, seeking to remind voters of the National Front's dark past, paid homage on Monday to a Moroccan man thrown to his death in the Seine River amid a far-right march over two decades ago.

Macron joined the man's son and anti-National Front protesters at an annual commemoration near the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The National Front traditionally holds a May Day march in Paris to honour Joan of Arc.

But at the 1995 event, some skinheads broke away and pushed 29-year-old Brahim Bourram off a bridge into the Seine River, where he drowned. The death drew national outrage.

Standing on the same bridge on Monday, Macron hugged Bourram's son Said, who was 9 years old when his father was killed.

Said, a chauffeur who supports Macron, said his father was targeted "because he was a foreigner, an Arab. That is why I am fighting, to say 'No' to racism."

Macron said, despite Marine Le Pen's efforts to distance herself from her father's anti-Semitism, "the roots are there, and they are very much alive".

"I will not forget anything and I will fight to the last second, not only against her project but against the idea she has of democracy and the nation," Macron declared.

Polls consider Macron the front-runner in the runoff, but the race has been exceptionally unpredictable.

Over the weekend, Le Pen was endorsed by Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a conservative candidate who lost in the first round of voting. Dupont-Aignan shocked many French by agreeing to be Le Pen's prime minister, if she wins the presidency.

Read more on:    france

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Play with your pet when you're not at home

Many pets are alone at home during the week while their owners are at work. So what do these animals get up to while they’re home alone?

 
 

Paws

How to get rid of fleas
12 Cool cat facts
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.