Tens of thousands march in Paris to protest against inflation in France
- The march for wage increases and other demands was organised by left-wing opponents of President Emmanuel Macron
- In a firebrand speech, far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon charged that Macron is ‘fried’ and that his leadership is plunging France into ‘chaos’
Tens of thousands of protesters, including France’s newly crowned Nobel literature laureate, piled into the streets of Paris on Sunday, in a show of anger against the bite of rising prices and cranking up pressure on the government of President Emmanuel Macron.
French news channel BFMTV cited the organisers as saying that some 140,000 people took to the streets of the French capital. Organisers had only expected about 30,000 people to turn up.
Police said some 30,000 people had taken place, while a count commissioned by a French media collective came to 29,500 demonstrators.
The march for wage increases and other demands was organised by left-wing opponents of Macron and lit the fuse on what promises to be an uncomfortable week for his centrist government.
Transport strikes called for Tuesday threaten to dovetail with wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic petrol shortages that are fraying nerves among millions of workers and other motorists dependent on their vehicles, with giant queues forming at petrol stations.
Macron’s government is also on the defensive in parliament, where it lost its majority in legislative elections in June. That is making it much harder for his centrist alliance to implement his domestic agenda against strengthened opponents, and parliamentary discussion of the government’s budget plan for next year is proving particularly difficult.
In a firebrand speech to the Paris march, far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon charged that Macron is “fried” and that his leadership is plunging France into “chaos”.
Mélenchon predicted that Macron’s ministers would have to ram the budget through parliament’s lower house without giving politicians a vote – a controversial prospect that provoked loud boos from the crowd.
Demonstrating at Mélenchon’s side was French author Annie Ernaux, who won the Nobel Prize for literature this year. Mélenchon – twice beaten by Macron in presidential elections – declared the protest “an immense success.”
Organisers called it a “march against the high cost of living and climate inaction.” As well as calling for massive investment against the climate crisis, protesters also demanded emergency measures against high prices, including freezes in the costs of energy, essential goods and rents, and for greater taxation of windfall profits.