French students occupy universities protesting against both Macron and Le Pen

A student occupation of the Sorbonne in Paris in protest over political choices following the first round of the Presidential elections has ended after more than 30 hours, but more are planned.

Students demonstrate outside La Sorbonne University, in Paris, 10 days ahead of the second round of France's presidential election.
Students demonstrate outside La Sorbonne University, in Paris, 10 days ahead of the second round of France's presidential election. (Photo: Julien de Rosa / AFP)

An estimated 100 students had started occupying the building on Wednesday to condemn what they called the “fake choice” between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen in the second round of voting on April 24th. 

“All the students of the occupation decided to leave,” a second-year philosophy student and Unef activist, told AFP after it was reported that gendarmerie officers were planning to enter the building. 

The final protesters left the building overnight. But the university has said that its Censier building will remain closed until the end of second-semester classes on Saturday, April 23rd – the day before voters return to the ballot box for the second round.

About 150 other students who were blocking access to Sciences Po Paris ended their sit-in on Thursday afternoon after a “removal” action organised by far-right activists.

The protest movement has spread to several universities across France this week. Other sporadic occupation protests took place the day after the first round, at the University of Paris 8 and the École Normale Supérieure Jourdan, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, which were blocked. Around 50 students also blocked the entrances to the Sciences Po Paris campus in Nancy with pallets on Wednesday.

Although the occupation of Sorbonne is over, a number of other protests are planned, including one outside ENS Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, on Friday afternoon, while anti-far right demonstrations are planned in towns and cities across France on Saturday.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Why the French prime minister is being sued over speed bumps

Three French ministers, including the Prime Minister, are being sued over 'too high' speed bumps by a motoring organisation which claims they endanger safety and increase pollution.

Why the French prime minister is being sued over speed bumps

The association “For a Serene and Sustainable Mobility” (Pour une mobilité sereine et durable) has filed a complaint against French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, along with Minister of Environment Christophe Béchu and Minister of Transport Clément Beaune, for endangerment and inaction, according to reporting by Ouest France.

The organisation’s lawyer, Rémy Josseaume, said that the subject of their complaint is the “general laxity” with which speed bumps have been implemented across the country.

The group also cited an increase in pollution as a result of the non-standard bumps, which explains why the ministers of transport and environment were targeted in the grievance.

According to RTL, the organisation has previously attempted to file complaints over “approximately 450,000 speed bumps of all types that do not comply with the regulations.” This most recent complaint has been filed with the Court of Justice of the Republic, accusing the ministers of “deliberately endangering the lives of others.”

The association cites a study conducted over the summer, which found that at least a third of French speed bumps are out of compliance. 

“There are particular consequences linked to noise problems, issues with cracks in certain houses” said Josseaume said to RTL. “These are extremely significant nuisances for fuel consumption and in terms of CO2 emissions.”

These findings have been supported by the Drivers Defence League found that “standard speed bumps increase fuel consumption by 10.5 to 13 percent; whereas, non-standard ones increase consumption by 26 to 28 percent,” the group told Ouest France in 2021.

“For a Serene and Sustainable Mobility” hopes to see all of the non-compliant speed bumps fixed, meaning that they should not exceed ten centimetres in height, four metres in length, and that they should only be installed zones where the speed limit is below 30km/h. 

In addition to the complaint citing endangerment, Josseaume also told RTL that an appeal was filed against the State with the administrative court over inaction and a “serious failure to meet its obligations to combat pollution.”