The march against inflation raises the political temperature in France

By BOUBKAR BENZABAT and PATRICK HERMANSEN, Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — Thousands of protesters, including France’s newest Nobel laureate in literature, crammed the streets of Paris on Sunday, in a show of anger over the bite of rising prices and pressure on the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

The march for pay rises and other demands has been organized by left-wing opponents of Macron and set fire to what promises to be an uncomfortable week for his centrist government.

Transportation strikes called on Tuesday threaten to tie in with wage strikes that have already hobbled refineries and fuel depots, causing chronic gasoline shortages that are fraying the nerves of millions of workers and other motorists dependent on their fuels. vehicles, with giant lines forming at gas stations.

The Macron government is also on the defensive in parliament, where it lost its majority in the June legislative elections. This makes it much more difficult for his centrist alliance to implement its national program against hardened opponents, and the parliamentary discussion of the government’s budget plan for next year is proving particularly difficult.

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In an inflammatory speech during the Paris march, far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon accused Macron of being “fried” and that his leadership is plunging France into “chaos”.

He predicted that Macron’s ministers would have to push the budget through the lower house of parliament without giving lawmakers a vote – a controversial prospect that drew loud boos from the crowd.

Organizers said more than 140,000 protesters marched. Paris police said they had no immediate estimate of the size of the dense, flag-waving crowds that filled squares and streets. There have been a few outbreaks of vandalism at the margins, with trash cans set on fire and bank tellers smashed. Riot police maintained order.

Alongside Mélenchon, French author Annie Ernaux, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year, protested. Mélenchon – twice beaten by Macron in the presidential elections – said the protest was “a huge success”.

Organizers called it a “march against high prices and climate inaction”. As well as calling for massive investment against the climate crisis, they also demanded emergency measures against rising prices, including freezing the costs of energy, essential goods and rents. , and for greater taxation of windfall profits.

Lawmaker Christophe Bex of the left-wing France Insoumise – or France Insoumise – party called the march a “show of force” to show “that another world is finally possible if we are all together and united”.

Another walker, retired railway worker Eric Doire, said: “What we want is for everyone to live decently with the purchasing power they had before.”

John Leicester at Pecq and Masha Macpherson in Paris contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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