Violence scars France’s pre-election May Day marches
DONALD TRUMP, US president PARIS: Traditional May 1 union marches turned violent in France on Monday and presidential election front-runner Emmanuel Macron attacked far-right rival Marine Le Pen, highlighting the divisions six days before the runoff.
Six police officers were hurt in clashes here between masked youth throwing Molotov cocktails and riot police, who responded with tear gas, as tens of thousands of union activists took to the streets for May Day demonstrations.
One riot police officer was engulfed in flames.
Interior Minister Matthias Fekl condemned the violence and said one officer was seriously burned on the hand, while another had serious burns to the face, without saying which was the officer.
Reacting to the scenes, Le Pen tweeted: “This is the sort of mess... that I no longer want to see on our streets.”
In a feisty speech, Macron told thousands of his supporters he would defend “free democracy” if voters choose him on Sunday after Le Pen had urged voters to reject “the world of finance, of arrogance, of money as king” she said her opponent embodied.
The traditional union-led marches underlined the conspicuous absence of the united front shown in 2002, when Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, shocked the country by reaching the run-off.
On this day 15 years ago, some 1.3 million people, including 400,000 here, took to the streets of France in union-led demonstrations to protest against the founder of the National Front.
That show of force, coupled with a political closing of ranks, helped the centre-right’s Jacques Chirac inflict a crushing defeat on Le Pen senior.
This time, with left-wing candidates eliminated in the first round, the left is deeply divided over the choice between Le Pen’s 48-year-old daughter and Macron, a 39-year-old former investment banker. AFP
Protesters pushing a burning trolley towards anti-riot policemen during a May Day workers’ rally in Paris on Monday.