• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Far-right descends on Paris for May Day

AFP · 1 May 2013, 20:43

Published: 01 May 2013 20:43 GMT+02:00

The National Front, which stages a procession through the French capital on May 1 every year to celebrate folk heroine Joan of Arc, is currently doing well in opinion polls on the back of the economic crisis and a deeply unpopular government.

Party leader Marine Le Pen, a fervent critic of the European Union, said France had "shut itself away in the darkness of Europe" in a speech after the march in front of Paris's famed opera building, on top of which fluttered a EU flag.

France "is sinking into an absurd policy of endless austerity... because it's about always saying yes to Brussels, to Berlin of course, and to financial moguls in all circumstances," she said.

Le Pen's speech to hundreds of supporters carrying French flags comes as the National Front is gaining strength just as Socialist leader François Hollande's government struggles against a tide of discontent.

In one recent opinion poll, when asked who respondents would vote for if an election was called immediately, former president Nicolas Sarkozy came first and Le Pen second, far ahead of Hollande in third.

His government has been affected by stagnant growth, high unemployment and a scandal involving ex-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac who was charged with tax fraud for siphoning hundreds of thousands of euros into a secret foreign bank account.

Since his election last May 6, Hollande's approval rating has fallen faster and further than any other president's since the founding of France's Fifth Republic in 1958.

As a result, the National Front says it has gained more followers, including Socialists unhappy with their government, though they have not provided any figures.

Story continues below…

David Assouline, spokesman for the Socialist party, hit out at Le Pen's speech, warning people not to be taken in.

"Behind lofty, misleading comments against bankers, she only becomes concrete when it's about attacking unions and immigrants," he said in a statement.

The far-right party is looking to municipal elections next year, where it hopes to gain control of several towns or cities.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'I feel no guilt': French boss defends €2.5m salary hike
"I earn this much". Peugeot Citroen boss Carlos Tavares defends his salary. Photo: AFP

The boss of French car giant Peugeot says he feels no guilt over his €2.5million salary rise and the criticism is all part of his pay packet.

Nine must-see landmarks in Paris you may have missed
Photo: AFP

You've seen the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral. So what next?

Cap on EU roaming charges set to kick in
Photo: zoetnet/Flickr

EU mobile users will soon be calling from Alicante to Zagreb at lower prices.

UK pair charged with funding Paris attacks suspect
Photo: Police

Two UK nationals have been charged with handing over to cash to a suspect in the Paris terror attacks.

Paris makes love-lock bridge even more love-lock proof
Photo: Michel Gauret/No Love Locks

Good luck attaching a love lock now.

France gets tough on Muslim footballers praying on pitch
Archive photo of Muslims praying on a sports pitch in France. Photo: AFP

Authorities in the Riviera city of Nice are cracking down on Muslims praying on their football pitches, arguing it is against France's Republican principles.

What's on in France: Ten great things to do in May
Photo: AFP

Events to keep you entertained as summer approaches.

Labour reform protests
Who are the masked rioters causing havoc in France?
Photos: AFP

Who's smashing up shops, banks, and bus stops - and attacking the French police force?

Defending 'monsters': Meet Abdeslam's French lawyer
Frank Berton, lawyer to suspected Paris terror attacker Salah Abdeslam. Photo: AFP

Even terrorists need a lawyer. And the Frenchman defending Salah Abdeslam says he hesitated to take the job.

Dozens more held after violent clashes in Paris
Photos: AFP

Another 24 people were arrested in Paris overnight, following a day of protests that left two dozen police officers injured.

Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
Society
Protesters clash with police over France's new labour laws
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
National
French dangerously 'unprepared' for future natural disasters
Is it really safe to come to France for Euro 2016?
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
National
Salah Abdeslam: Pot-smoking 'little moron' is finally back in Paris
Society
PICTURES: Snow falls in Paris... at the end of April?
Rail strike: Passengers in France face major disruption
Cats in a cafe?!? Nine of the quirkiest things you can see in Paris
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
VIDEO: The moment a Paris suicide bomber blew himself up
National
Why there's another rail strike in France and why there will be more
National
Winter is coming (back). Why is France so cold right now?
National
WWI's Anzac Day heroes honoured in northern France service
Lifestyle
VIDEO: Did you know all these stars spoke great French?
Culture
How did the French end up with their 'crazy' numbers?
Politics
Why this man could become the next president of France
Society
VIDEO: Jewellers in southern France raided by... swarm of bees
Culture
Did you know the strange origins of these six French curse words?
Why are more and more people dying on French roads?
National
VIDEO: Mass street brawl erupts at Paris migrant camp
Culture
Film 'Chocolat' highlights taboo of race problem in French cinema
Society
British people have been urged to come to France... and to get naked
Culture
15 reasons Clermont-Ferrand is the best place in France
National
Eight tips for buying wine in a French supermarket
Culture
Steven Spielberg and Jodie Foster top star-studded Cannes cast
2,776
jobs available