Some 250 rallies took place across France on May Day, with over 100,000 people protesting the anti-working-class policies of the newly reelected government of President Emmanuel Macron, especially his plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65. Among popular banners were, above, “Yellow vests of all countries unite!” “Retirement at 60, freeze prices” and “Macron get out.”
Despite a victory of 58.5% in the April 24 runoff election against 41.5% for his right-wing challenger, Marine Le Pen, Macron had to acknowledge France “is riddled with so many doubts, so many divisions.” Some 28% of voters abstained, the highest percentage in more than 50 years.
Most of the left parties, like the Communists and Socialists, called for a vote for Macron, claiming Le Pen had to be defeated. Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came in third in the first round of the presidential vote with 22% by winning support of many workers and those to the left of the CP, refused to back Macron. He told his supporters though to “not give a single vote” to Le Pen.
Workers and youth at the May Day actions aimed their fire at the government. “It is important to show Macron and the whole political world that we are prepared to defend our social rights,” 19-year-old student Joshua Antunes told the press.
On the eve of May Day, CGT union head Philippe Martinez demanded the government “deal with the purchasing power problem by raising wages.”