Thousands of French protests against the far right

Several thousand people demonstrated in France against the far right. Protest groups have called for demonstrations in more than 30 cities to prevent right-wing populist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen from coming to power. The second round of the presidential election is next Sunday.

Tear gas was briefly used at demonstrations in Paris because the protest seemed to spiral out of control for a while, but the protests in the country were ultimately mostly peaceful. According to organizers, 150,000 people were on the road across the country and 40,000 in Paris. But authorities say there were far fewer participants: 9,200 in the capital and less than 25,000 across the country.

Thirty cities

In the first round of the presidential election, Le Pen won more than 23 percent of the vote. Incumbent President Macron received more than 27 percent.

“Against right-wing extremism. For justice and equality. Le Pen not in the Élysée,” read a banner of activists in Paris. Students, feminists, union members, environmentalists and anti-fascists, among others, expressed fears of the possibility of Le Pen winning the election.

“If the far right comes to power, it will be a big blow to democratic, anti-racist and progressive currents,” the president of SOS Racism told Reuters. He hopes that supporters of these movements who are disappointed in Macron will see this when they go to the polls later.

Le Pen: Just go vote

Le Pen was in the campaign in Saint-Remy-sur-Avre today. There, she dismissed the demonstrations as undemocratic. “The establishment is worried,” she told Reuters. “What people will demonstrate against the election results is very undemocratic. I tell these people: just go and vote.”

Her opponent Macron had a big pre-election rally in Marseille today. There, the president patted himself on the back about his environmental policy and future plans in the area, in an effort to reach as many young voters as possible.

Next week, the two presidential candidates will discuss each other on Wednesday night.

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