in Paris, a demonstration “against the extreme right” much less unifying than in 2002

in Paris, a demonstration “against the extreme right” much less unifying than in 2002
in Paris, a demonstration “against the extreme right” much less unifying than in 2002

REPORTING – This Saturday, June 15, the Parisian mobilization against the National Rally was intended to be apolitical. However, it hardly brought together activists favorable to the New Popular Front.

France expected a large-scale and memorable event against the National Rally. But ultimately, the demonstration this Saturday afternoon mainly boils down to Palestinian flags, little damage and a calm and gloomy atmosphere, like the Parisian sky. A very different atmosphere from that experienced during the determined and flamboyant mobilizations of the pension reform of 2023, for example, or during the “yellow vests” in 2018-2019. In total, 75,000 demonstrators took to the streets according to the police headquarters and 250,000 according to the CGT. Nothing compares to 2002, when 400,000 people marched in Paris, and 1.5 million throughout France.

In the capital, where the RN vote is traditionally very weak, opponents hoped to conquer the streets and make their voices heard. Starting from Place de la République at 2 p.m., the procession then reached Place de la Bastille before stopping at Place de la Nation, around 4:45 p.m. At the head of the procession, CGT boss Sophie Binet tried to broaden the mobilization by calling on right-wing voters to join the movement. “We must hold on and remember […] When we are faced with fascism, we mobilize”, she declared, in a confident tone. In vain. In the procession, the left-wing activists, in the large majority, therefore gave the impression of a pro-New Popular Front meeting. With their slogans: Bardella get out of it, the Republic is not yours”, “And the youth piss off the National Front”or “No neighborhood for fascists, no fascists for our neighborhoods”.

A mobilized youth

Young people were particularly present. The student union, Fage, Unef, the young communist movement and young environmentalists have gathered their forces. Rose, 18, came with a friend to campaign. “I heard Sophie Binet explain that the mobilization is a good opportunity to show that many of us do not want the extreme right in power. We must keep hope”, shared the Paris-1 Panthéon-Sorbonne student. A little further, Alice, professor of French literature at the University of Paris-4, said she was particularly worried about her job. “At university, we feel very threatened by the extreme right where Muslim students are not allowed to come dressed as they want”, commented the teacher. Before adding: “People on the far right also hate people with degrees. We really are a target. We are afraid for the status of the civil service, for our foreign colleagues, for our students. We also want to play a political role.”

The student union, Fage, Unef, the young communist movement and young environmentalists were in the procession.
Wladimir Garcin-Berson / Le Figaro

Even those who do not have the right to vote were present. Starting with Manès Nadel, a figure in high school wrestling. “There is a real risk that the far right will come to power in 20 days. It’s important to spread word of mouth, to mobilize, to talk about it to those around you, to convince”, estimated the 17-year-old teenager, vice-president of the High School Union. Antoine, 16, also wanted to accompany his parents, the day after his French baccalaureate. “I think there is still time to redress the situation. I too want to show that I am mobilized”he confided.

Behind the teenager, his mother, Juliette, saw this movement as a good way to unite against the RN. “Let the left-wing parties not all agree, so be it. But the most important thing is to oppose in a united way”, she clarified, while regretting that the different members of the New Popular Front are unable to reach an intelligent agreement. Juliette is not the only one of this opinion. Several messages directly targeting Jean-Luc Mélenchon were brandished by demonstrators. “There is a movement that is rising, and he is throwing all that to the ground”, annoyed a participant, who keeps in his throat the purge of outgoing LFI deputies critical of the left tribune, who were ultimately not invested by the party. We are a long way from the time when, in 2022, the rebellious troops called for their leader to be elected prime minister. For some, he has even become a threat to unity and victory. “It looks like he wants to kill himself”the same demonstrator choked.

Few tags and damage

Despite tags “Bardella FDP (son of a bitch, Editor’s note)” And “Free Gaza” drawn on the July Column in the Place de la Bastille or in the streets of Paris, and impacts on windows, the damage is few, compared to what was observed during the demonstrations of the “yellow vests” or against pension reform. Four people were arrested, according to police headquarters.

Place de la Bastille, activists tagged “Bardella FDP (son of a bitch, Editor’s note)”.
Emma Ferrand / Le Figaro

If Sophie Binet of the CGT welcomes the “popular tidal wave” sparked by this demonstration, the fight is far from won. Marylise Léon, the head of the CFDT, intends to get involved with her union “until the last day of the legislative election”relentlessly, against the RN program, “based on tie breaking. We cannot accept it”. Laurent Escure, secretary general of Unsa, is preparing for his part: if the RN passes, “they will find men and women” in front, ready to “create a balance of power” to defend the “peace”. “We will be fierce opponents of this power”he continued.

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