Up to 30,0000 people, including up to 500 ‘extremists’, are marching in Paris this weekend against ‘the expensive cost of living’ and ‘climate inaction’, with support from various unions and NGOs.
The march, which police say could draw up to 30,000 people, is set to leave from Place de la Nation at 14:00 French time today (Sunday, October 16), and continue to the Bastille. It is focusing on five main topics, grievances and demands:
- Retirement at 60 and wage increases
- An ‘autonomy allowance’ of €1,100 for young people
- Price freezes
- Taxation of super-profits
- Ecological change
Police have warned that they are expecting a ‘hardcore’ block of 400-500 extremists to attend, which they called ‘hard-left militants’.
Around 2,000 police and gendarmes are standing by at the event.
One of the main participants and driving members behind the action was Jean-Luc Mélenchon, former presidential candidate. He won 21.95% of the vote in the first round of the presidential elections last April, and is now aiming to promote the new ‘Nupes’ left-wing party alliance.
He had aimed to organise a large cross-party demonstration, and had attempted to enlist several trade unions. But some, including the CGT, FSU, and Sud-Solidaires will not attend.
Similarly, the Communist party only confirmed its involvement late last week, and leader Fabien Roussel will not attend. Nor will Yannick Jadot, former president of the Ecologist party.
Yet, the CGT Commerce, the CGT Energie Île-de-France, and more than 700 trade unionists including the CGT confederal secretary Céline Verzeletti announced that they would take part.
Other participants include high-profile figures from the world of culture, including recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature Annie Ernaux. Similarly, president of La France Insoumise, Mathilde Panot, said on Friday October 14 that she was "[very happy] that there is a resistance march being organised in this country”.
LFI deputy Aurélie Trouvé said that now was a “favourable time” for the march, amid the context of fuel refinery strikes, rising fuel costs, food prices, and energy bills.
Karl Olive, Renaissance MP, said: "How many French people today are busy trying to figure out how they are going to fill their tanks, how they are going to fill their fridges? I think that…frankly, the French are fed up.”
Several of the same unions are also set to take part in a day of strikes this Tuesday, October 18.