DEMONSTRATORS have booed, whistled and demanded the resignation of President François Hollande during the Armistice Day ceremony on the Champs-Élysées.
More than 70 people were arrested during scuffles with police and Interior Minister Manuel Valls has pointed the finger at people “linked to the extreme Right” including several leading Front National members and candidates.
Although some of the protesters were wearing the bonnet rouge of the Breton eco-tax protests he said that there were no Bretons involved, “no workers fighting for their jobs, just militants who wanted to attack Republican values”.
Whistling and shouts of “Hollande resign” met the president’s motorcade as it neared the Arc de Triomphe and fighting broke out as police moved in.
Front National leader Marine Le Pen admitted several FN members were amongst those arrested and that leading members were also at the protest, including Wallerand de Saint-Just, the head of the party’s Paris municipal election campaign, but said the arrests were “arbitrary”.
However, she added that she “disapproved of such behaviour” and said: “You do not demonstrate on a day of commemoration.”
The protests came as two polls said that Mr Hollande’s popularity had plummeted to their lowest levels, of 21% and 22%, as a result of the continuing problems in the economy with high jobless rates and increasing taxes.
He also came under attack from his own side as Essonne Socialist MP Malek Boutih called for an immediate cabinet reshuffle, with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault first to go.
Newspaper headlines gave Hollande little comfort, calling him the “President of boos” and saying “everything is falling apart”.