Fears of far-right takeover spur widespread protests across France

France REUTERS - Benoit Tessier
REUTERS - Benoit Tessier

Marches against a far-right surge were being staged in cities across France on Saturday – with hundreds of thousands of people calling on the nation to derail the anti-immigration National Rally's hopes of taking control of parliament in upcoming snap elections. 

Some 150 protests drew together crowds of people fearing the 30 June and 7 July polls will saddle France with its first far-right government since World War II. 

Politicians and union staff were joined by feminist and LGBTQ+ groups, environmental NGOs and others seeking to block the far right at all costs and denouncing a political program that stirs up racism, hatred and homophobia.

Left-wing political figures marched side by side in Paris.

Among them were Greens party leader Marine Tondelier, France Unbowed leader Mathilde Panot, Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure, Communist Party spokesperson Ian Brossat and Paris deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire. 

Historic gains

Anti-racism demonstrators have been gathering daily ever since the National Rally (RN) made historic gains in the European Parliament elections on Sunday. 

The RN took more than 30 percent of the vote cast in France – almost twice as much as President Emmanuel Macron's centrist Renaissance party.  

The results prompted Macron to dissolve the National Assembly and call surprise elections in what experts warn is a major political gamble. 

Although Macron will remain in charge until 2027, his presidency would be weakened if RN wins power of the government and domestic policy. 

Left-wing band

To prevent this from happening, left-wing on Friday agreed to set aside their differences over the wars in Gaza and Ukraine and form a "Popular Front" coalition.  

The alliance will present single candidates in each of France's 577 constituencies.  

It's set to go head-to-head against RN – currently leading the polls for the parliamentary vote – while Macron's camp is struggling to make headway against those two blocs. 

“We need a democratic and social upsurge – if not the extreme right will take power,” French unions said in a statement Friday. “Our Republic and our democracy are in danger.” 

Candidates for the first round of the elections must be submitted by Sunday at 6pm. 

While the Popular Front has yet to publish its full manifesto, it plans to lower the retirement age and introduce a new wealth tax. 

Opinion polls suggest RN – whose founder has been repeatedly convicted of racism and anti-Semitism – is expected to be ahead in the first round of the parliamentary elections. 

A win could put RN's 28-year-old party leader Jordan Bardella on track to become France's next prime minister. 

Which team do you think has the higher chance of winning the 2024 elections?

Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024