May Day rallies in Europe are calling for more help as inflation bites

PARIS – Tens of thousands marched in European cities on Sunday to protest May Day to honor workers and embarrass governments to do more for their citizens. In France, protesters chanted slogans against newly elected President Emmanuel Macron, a move that could set the tone for his second term.

Tensions erupted in Paris when some protesters smashed the windows of some banks, a fast food restaurant and a real estate agency, apparently partly the work of masked men dressed in black. French police intervened, firing tear gas. This failed to stop a woman from attacking a firefighter trying to put out a street fire.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 45 people had been detained so far, including the young woman. Eight police officers were injured, he said, calling the perpetrators “thugs” trying to “stop the right to demonstrate”.

May Day is often a time of strong emotions for workers in Europe, and protests over the past two years have been limited by pandemic restrictions.


Turkish police quickly intervened in Istanbul to surround protesters near the blocked Taksim Square, where 34 people were killed in 1977 during a May Day event.

Turkish police detained 164 people on Sunday for unsanctioned demonstrations and resistance by police in the square, the Istanbul governor’s office said. On the Asian side of vast Istanbul, a May Day rally drew thousands of people singing, chanting and waving banners.

Berlin Mayor Francisco Gifi briefly interrupted her May 1 speech at a union rally, where someone threw an egg at her but missed. A gif from the center-left Social Democratic Party was greeted by loud protests during his speech. Giffe called egg-laying “neither useful nor politically valuable.”

In Italy, after a two-year lull in the pandemic, an open-air mega-concert was held in Rome after rallies and protests in cities across the country. In addition to improving working conditions, peace was a major issue, with many calls for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Italy’s three main unions held their main rally in the city of Assisi on top of a hill, a frequent destination for peaceful protests.


“This is May Day of social and civic commitment to peace and labor,” said Daniela Fumarola, head of the Italian CISL union.

In Russia, a motorcade organized by the country’s unions supporting the invasion of Ukraine ended its trip across the country to Moscow on Sunday to mark May Day. 70 cars representing all Russian regions from Vladivostok to Astrakhan, as well as Russian-backed separatist administrations controlling parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions took part.

May Day celebrations in Russia also arrested anti-war protesters and bystanders across the country, including some who demonstrated in support of the authorities. According to reports from Russia’s legal aid group OVD-Info, which monitors political arrests, a man has been detained in Moscow after raising a sign in support of the FSB and President Vladimir Putin.

Rising inflation and fears of impending food shortages from the war in Ukraine have fueled discontent around the world.


Thousands of workers, unemployed and pensioners marched peacefully in the northern Macedonian capital, Skopje, demanding higher wages and respect for workers’ rights. Inflation, which has been declining at an annual rate of 8.8% in March, is at a 14-year high.

Darko Dimovski, head of the country’s Federation of Trade Unions, told the audience that workers are pushing for a full pay rise.

“The economic crisis has eaten away at workers’ wages,” he said.

In France, May Day rallies – a week after the country’s presidential election – were aimed at showing centrist Macron the opposition he could face during his second five-year term. Opposition parties, especially the far-left and far-right, have sought to defeat his government’s majority in France’s parliamentary elections in June.

The Paris march was dominated by far-left leader Jean-Luc Melanchon, who finished third in the first round of the presidential election and is deep in talks with other left-wing parties in France, including the once-dominant Socialists, who are struggling to survive. Melenchon called on potential partners to ally to prevent Macron’s centrists from dominating parliament, as they are now doing.


“Our goal is victory,” he said.

About 250 marches and protests took place around France. Everyone put pressure on Macron for policies that put people first and condemned his plan to raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 65. Macron says this is the only way for the government to continue to provide good pension benefits.

“May Day is the time to unite to reduce working hours. This reduction means one key thing – that workers should receive a larger share of wealth, “said Melenchon, condemning the violence during the march in Paris, which he said overshadowed the worries of workers.

For the first time, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is absent from his party’s traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the foot of a statue of Jeanne d’Arc, replaced by the interim president of her National Rally party. Le Pen was defeated by Macron in the presidential run-off on April 24 and plans to campaign to retain his seat as an MP.


“I have come to tell the French that the vote is not over. There is a third round, legislative elections, “said Jordan Bardella of the National Rally. “It would be incredible to leave all power to Emmanuel Macron.


Nicole Winfield in Rome, Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul, Demetris Nelas in Athens, and Oleg Cetinic in Paris contributed to this report.

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May Day rallies in Europe are calling for more help as inflation bites

Source link May Day rallies in Europe are calling for more help as inflation bites

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