Protests by 250,000 against French far-right criticised by RN voters

Large protests were held against far-right over weekend, but those set to back the RN at upcoming elections called them ‘ridiculous’

People demonstrating against the extreme right in Paris, France
People at Saturday's protest in Paris. The sign reads 'voting R-haine [R-hate, a mocking nickname for the RN due to its similar pronounciation] will not solve France's problems'
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Hundreds of thousands of people across France joined protests and marches against the far-right in France on Saturday (June 15).

Around 250,000 people joined the marches nationally, according to the Interior Ministry. The CGT union put the figure at closer to 640,000.

The largest march, held in Paris, saw 75,000 people join according to the ministry, compared to 250,000 by the CGT. 

Read more: How do you know how many people really attended a protest in France?

Protestors sang chants and waved banners, urging people to unite in a ‘Republican Front’ and vote strategically to block far-right parties from winning seats in the upcoming legislative elections, which will be held in two rounds on June 30 and July 7.

Read more: Macron: why I called snap French election and won’t resign if we lose

Those primed to back the Rassemblement National (RN) and its leader Jordan Bardella – the main group decried during the protests – were critical of the protests, calling it “ridiculous” to march against the group. 

“They don't have to demonstrate because [the RN] is in the lead… If it would have been Emmanuel Macron or Mr Mélenchon [left-wing politician and leader of La France Insoumise] in the lead. Would the RN have demonstrated? No,” said one voter in Évreux to FranceInfo.

Around 200 people marched against the RN in the town on Saturday.

Left-wing parties in voters sights 

Those set to back the RN at the upcoming elections take umbrage both at the current president, but also at the left-wing alternative and those set to back the recently announced Nouveau Front Populaire, an alliance between various left-wing and centre-left parties.

“Why would I vote for Mr Macron? He is the one who got us into this mess,” said 65-year old Eric. 

“All the protestors, there’s no talking to them, they’re crazy… they’re like sheep, you can make them believe whatever you want,” he added. 

“A fortnight ago, [all the left-wing parties] were spitting at each other during the European Elections,” said a third resident, Sylvie. 

“Now, as if by chance, there are posts to be filled, and their logic has changed,” she added, casting a critical gaze at the protestors.

Read more: French politics: François Hollande returns as candidate in snap election

Voters feel need to ‘try something else’ 

During his interview, Eric added that although he felt the RN would not be better at governing France – “whether it be Macron, Mélénchon, or Bardella, we’re in trouble. The debt cannot be cleared, it’s impossible” – he will vote for the RN “as a form of protest.” 

And he is not alone. 

The RN came first during the European elections in the Normandy town earlier this month, and already hold both seats which cover voters from the town in the National Assembly. 

“We have to try the RN. Why don't we give it a try? We've tried all the others,” said Peggy, a 62-year old resident of Évreux. 

“What's the point? People are afraid, but what will the RN do? [The protestors have] got it into their heads that we're going to kick out the foreigners who live here,” said Josette, another resident who watched the protests from afar.

Read more: Snap French election: What will far-right want if it gains more power?