Far from uniting as in 2002 against the National Front, the unions celebrate Monday May 1 in dispersed order, less than a week before the second round of the residential election.
“For Marianne, let’s vote against Marine.” This is the message displayed at the gathering of the CFDT, Unsa and the Federation of General Student Associations (FAGE), this Monday morning. Between the two rounds of , these unions have clearly opted for a call to “block the National Front”, while the CGT, FO, FSU and Solidaires have chosen a broader slogan. A divergence that materializes in the streets of Paris and many cities in France. They don’t march together.
“We refuse ambiguity” (Berger, CFDT)
in front of the Jaurès metro (XIXth arrondissement of Paris) to “reject the reactionary and identity vision of the National Front”. Aware of the reluctance to vote for Emmanuel Macron, Laurent Berger warned that the ballot in his favor was not worth “not acceptance of his program”. “We will fight Emmanuel Macron when we disagree, especially on his conception of social dialogue,” he said.
At the podium, this Monday, Laurent Berger repeated it. “We reject ambiguity. “Abstention is a half-vote for Marine Le Pen, we will vote for Emmanuel Macron,” he said. The presence of the FN in the second round of the presidential election “is more serious than in 2002, there is a real risk”, in his eyes. “The FN is a scam, it is the opposite of the France we want to build. We will have to push the FN back in consciousness and continue to build a united France, ”he added.
Between 200 and 300 demonstrators gathered in Paris. The demonstrators gathered at the end of the morning in the Stalingrad district brandished signs displaying: “The youth fucks the National Front”, “No to Lep’Haine!”, “Do not touch my France”!. Many wore stickers “Do not touch my friend” from the association SOS racism.
“We must beat the FN for social progress” (Martinez, CGT)
Later, several thousand people demonstrated in the afternoon at the call of the CGT, FO, FSU and Solidaires unions, behind a banner proclaiming: “against social setbacks, breeding ground for the far right”. The CGT has indeed wished for this rally to propose a broader slogan, in particular by defending claims on purchasing power and wages, without openly inviting people to vote for Emmanuel Macron.
The procession set off shortly after 2:30 p.m. from Place de la République towards Place de la Nation. “Our slogan is clear: We must beat the FN for social progress. The FN is a racist, xenophobic, anti-women and liberal party”, declared the general secretary of the CGT, Philippe Martinez. “Whoever is elected will have an essential, almost historic responsibility. If he does not respond to the problems posed in economic and social terms, if he splits from the start, that means that the situation will worsen, ”said his FO counterpart, Jean-Claude Mailly.
In the provinces, processions not always separated
From Lille to Marseille, several tens of thousands of people demonstrated for the traditional parade. In Marseille, they were 4,800 according to a first estimate by the police) left the Old Port of Marseille around 11:00 a.m. behind CGT flags, but also FSU, Solidaires and Sud. Using a megaphone, union activists called on demonstrators to celebrate this “third social round”, “our second round to us”. Hundreds of La France Insoumise demonstrators were present. The CGT of Bouches-du-Rhône counted 40,000 demonstrators in the streets of the department on Monday.
“The third social round, our second round to us”
In the procession in Marseille
In Nantes, at least 4,000 people marched behind a banner proclaiming “End the social setbacks that are the breeding ground of the far right.” The leading procession of the inter-union CGT-FSU-Solidaires was joined by anarchist groups and opponents at Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport at the tail of the procession. The CFDT, for its part, called for a rally to “block the National Front by going to vote”, in front of the castle of the Dukes of Brittany.
In Lille, the union of Laurent Berger however marched with the other organizations. Christine Carlier, general secretary of the local CGT union, explained this exception: “Historically, in Lille, there is a solid inter-union, we work together”. 1,300 people demonstrated in the northern capital according to the police, despite the gloomy weather, against 950 in 2016.
In Bordeaux, they were more than 4000 according to the CGT, 3500 according to the police. “For us, May 1 is an opportunity to say ‘neither one nor the other’. Fascism is always worse than Macron but left and right have been using the FN for 30 years as a scarecrow to retain power. We refuse this blackmail and vote Macron!” assured Thomas, a student.
“Everyone hates the FN”
In the procession in Toulouse
In Toulouse, same story. 6,000 to 15,000 people (according to the police and the organizers) marched under the cries of “everyone hates the FN”.
In Lyon, At the call of the CGT, some 5,000 people according to the Rhône prefecture, 8,000 according to the organizers marched at midday from Place Jean Macé to Place Bellecour, while the CFDT only gathered 250 demonstrators.
In Strasbourgthe presidential election was not very present in the demands of the procession which numbered from 1,800 people (according to the police) to 4,000 demonstrators, marching in a light rain, behind a banner proclaiming “Resistance!”.