(Photo by Sam Tarling/Getty Images)
As the final French presidential election approaches in a few days, massive national rallies took place across France ahead of the second round of the presidential election which qualified Marine Le Pen, known for a far-right candidate.
Anti-far-right protesters gathered in about 30 cities across France on April 16 to express their opposition against not only the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen but also the incumbent President Emmanuel Macron in the upcoming final election.
The wave of the large gathering against the far-right struck the entire France just 8 days before the final round of the elections between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. In this national scale of the demonstration, around 22,800 people joined in about 50 rallies in different cities in France, including 9200 protesters in Paris, according to the French police.
The demonstration took place in several university sites in Paris like the Sorbonne, which was organized by young people. Moreover, many student unions, civil society associations and professionals (the League of Human Rights, SOS Racism, General Confederation of Labour, Greenpeace France, Syndicate of the Judiciary and the National Trade Union Center) spilled out onto the street to participate in the demonstrations.
The demonstration emerged after the result of the first round to prevent Marine Le Pen from winning the final run-off and called for the anti-far-right. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they support Macron, the outgoing president either in the next election.
Many were discontented with the final two candidates in the final election, “Neither Le Pen, nor Macron” is one of the slogans seen in the rallies. The demonstrators even called for mass abstention for the election to express anger toward the two candidates.
Other banners spotted were “Not a single vote for Marine Le Pen”, “Against the extreme right,” “The young on National Rally,” “Insecurity is hate at the Elysee,” and “Better a vote that stinks than a vote that kills.”
The main demonstration site was at the Place de la Republique in Paris. It was peaceful until some crowds threw bottles toward police officers, but the police used tear gas several times to respond to the protesters and the metro station was blocked to control the rallies. Followed by the large public gathering against the far-right on April 16, the high school students staged a protest at a few prestigious schools in Paris on April 19 to warn of the danger of the far-right, the climate emergency, social inequalities which were not fully addressed by the candidates.
The largest protest began in front of the renowned high school of the 5th arrondissement Louis-le-Grand in Paris. Some students were chanting slogans against the "National Front", others were insisting "Climate Justice Social Justice." "We couldn't vote because we're not old enough and we see this second round disappointing us.", said Stessy, 16, first year student at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand from the interview with franceinfo.
The collective movements simultaneously occurred at several high schools in Paris on the same day such as Lycée Louis-le-Grand, The Balzac high school in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, Lycée Lamartine in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, the Lycée Lavoisier in the 5th arrondissement of Paris.
In response to the protesters, Marine Le Pen criticized the protests. "Coming to demonstrate against the results of an election", she said, was "deeply anti-democratic... I think the French find it unpleasant to see their choice being challenged in the street, through demonstrations".
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen competed for the presidential election five years ago, this time, they will match again. The final round of the presidential election will be on April 24.
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