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SARKOZY

How many were really at Sarkozy’s rally?

Nicolas Sarkozy’s May Day rally at the Place du Trocedero, in front of the Eiffel Tower, was at the centre of an age-old dispute yesterday – the number of people estimated to have attended.

How many were really at Sarkozy's rally?
Luke Brown

The UMP camp claim there were 200,000 people present on the square, while several others have said it would be impossible to fit in that many people.

A tweet from Sarkozy’s personal account at 7.04 last night showed an aerial photo of the rally and said: “This May 1st, there were 200,000 of us to celebrate at the Place du Trocedero”.

But socialist Manuel Valls was one of many to take to twitter to cry foul: “The Place du Trocedero is 22,000 meters squared. Impossible to make it hold 200,000 people.[There would be]40,000 at the most.”

If the UMP figure is true, it means there would have been nine people per square meter in the crowd during the rally.

Luke Brown, the France 24 elections correspondent, who was at the Trocedero yesterday, says the size of these outdoor rallies is not supposed to be known.

“What’s interesting this time has been the non-stop inflation of the figures. Each rally is followed by another even bigger one,” he told The Local.

“The trend is new this year, and it’s a means of bypassing real debate, as people talk more about the event than the issues.

“Neither Sarkozy nor Hollande will win that many people round during the rallies – they’re preaching to the converted – but they’re an ideal way to control the image.

“Television stations have to use the official footage – and as you saw at the Trocadero, that was a picture postcard vision of French politics.”

The second round of the French presidential elections will be taking place this Sunday.

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MAY DAY

IN PICTURES: Scuffles and arrests in Paris as thousands mark May Day across France

Police scuffled with protesters in Paris on Saturday, firing tear gas, as thousands turned out across France for May Day workers' rights demonstrations.

IN PICTURES: Scuffles and arrests in Paris as thousands mark May Day across France
Police officers of the brigade of repression of violent action BRAV walk near a fire burning in the street during the annual May Day (Labour Day) rally in Paris on May 1, 2021. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

A police source told AFP that far-left “black bloc” protesters had repeatedly tried to block the trade union-led march in the French capital, with 34 people detained.

A protester throws a projectile during clashes with police at the annual May Day (Labour Day) rally in Paris on May 1, 2021. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

Some protesters smashed the windows of bank branches, set fire to dustbins and threw projectiles at police, who responded with volleys of tear gas and stingball grenades. An injured policeman had to be evacuated, an AFP journalist saw.

Protesters stand near a burning trash bin in the street during the annual May Day (Labour Day) rally in Paris on May 1, 2021. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

The CGT union said nearly 300 May Day protests were planned around the country, with authorities expecting around 100,000 demonstrators to join them
in total.

The crowds held placards with different demands, ranging from the end of the nighttime curfew in place as part of coronavirus restrictions, to a halt to unemployment reforms due to come into force in July.

Protesters hold a banner reading “Courthouse, police, prison, employment office, the enchanted world of Macron” during the annual May Day (Labour Day) rally in Paris on May 1, 2021. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

Different industries took to the streets to protest, including tourism workers.

Protestors of the tourism industry hold signs and banners as they take part in the annual May Day (Labour Day) workers’ demonstration, in Paris on May 1, 2021. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

And protestors from the French General Confederation of Labour (CGT) in Paris held a banner, which read “For social rights and liberties, against far-right ideas, workers from every country, let’s unite!” (below pic)

(Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

Members of the yellow vest anti-elite movement, which rocked Emmanuel Macron’s presidency two years ago before largely fizzling out, could also be spotted at protests up and down the country.

A protester holds up his hand with “Macron get out” written on his palm as he stands next to a shattered bank window during the annual May Day (Labour Day) rally in Paris on May 1, 2021. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

Five people were arrested in the southeastern city of Lyon as black bloc protesters again clashed with police at the demonstration, which drew some 3,000 people despite the rain.

Ultra-leftist protesters burn flares and hold banners, one reading , ‘Long live May 1’ and ‘En Bande Organisee’ as they head the annual May Day (Labour Day) rally in the southeastern city of Lyon on May 1, 2021. (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

“There are so many motivations for a revolt that are building up — the management of Covid, the so-called reforms that are going to take away people’s ability to live, jobseekers who are going to lose their benefits,” said a pensioner who gave her name as Patricia.

“We absolutely need to express ourselves,” the 66-year-old said.

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