May Day in France: Trade union calls to support Macron fall flat


May Day in France: Trade union calls to support Macron fall flat

Francis Dubois

2 May 2017

Around 140,000 people marched yesterday in demonstrations across France for May Day, in the run-up to the second round of the presidential elections between former Socialist Party (PS) Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron and neo-fascist National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen.

Fifty thousand people marched in Paris, 10,000 in Toulouse, 5,000 in Lyon, Marseille, and Rennes, 4,000 in Boredeaux and Nantes, 2,000 in Strasbourg and over 1,000 in Lille. Protests drawing several thousand people took place in several mid-sized cities. In many demonstrations, groups of marchers chanted slogans opposing both candidates, such as “Neither Macron nor Le Pen” or, as in Rennes, “Le Pen, Macron, we don’t want them.”

The French media expressed surprise at the relatively small May Day protests this year, compared to the massive demonstrations against Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002, the other time that the FN reached the second round of the French presidential elections. The trade unions also failed to agree on a common demonstration and organized separate marches or gatherings. The largest trade union in the private sector, the PS-linked French Democratic Labor Confederation (CFDT), mobilized virtually none of its forces.

The lack of a response in the working class to the unions’ lukewarm calls to protest on May Day is yet another reflection of the broad collapse of the French political system. After the elimination of the candidates of France’s two main big-business parties, the Socialist Party (PS) and The Republicans (LR), workers and young people are demonstrating their lack of faith in the union bureaucracies.

The relatively small size of the protests cannot be attributed to satisfaction by…

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