Tens of thousands of protesters in Paris have danced, picnicked and railed against President Emmanuel Macron at a ‘party’ marking his first year in office.
Police fired tear gas on troublemakers on the margins of the largely festive protest on Saturday, and eight people were arrested. Authorities deployed 2000 police to the event after violence and ransacking scarred a May Day protest in the French capital earlier this week, shocking many.
‘Stop Macron!’ read placards at the rally in front of Paris’ famed Opera Garnier. Demonstrators then marched through tourist-filled neighbourhoods toward the Bastille plaza in eastern Paris.
Organisers of the march, the far-left party Defiant France, planned the event around the one-year anniversary of Macron’s May 7, 2017 election. He was inaugurated a week later, and quickly launched broad changes to France’s labour rules to increase the nation’s global competitiveness.
Protesters are angry at reforms led by Macron, a centrist former investment banker, such as cutting some worker protections and increasing police powers.
‘This regime is a regime that’s an authoritarian regime. We are in a soft dictatorship and we have concerns about guarantees of individual freedoms and the guarantee of fundamental rights,’ said protester Roselyne Gonle-Luillier, a judge.
Macron won the presidency on a wave of disillusionment at France’s traditional parties, beating far-right Marine Le Pen in a runoff. He has raised France’s international profile – but at home many voters are disgruntled and fear that he his dismantling the French way of life.