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Protests in Paris mark Hollande's first year

France's Left Front calls thousands to demonstrate against a president struggling with poor approval ratings.

Last Modified: 05 May 2013 18:12
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Tens of thousands of leftist party supporters have marched through Paris to express disappointment with French President Francois Hollande's first year in power.

The Communist-backed Front de Gauche or Left Front brought out people for a march on Sunday on the eve of the anniversary of Hollande's May 6 win last year over Nicolas Sarkozy.

Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer, reporting from Paris, said most of the protesters were those who had been laid off, students and unionists.

He said the Left Front was demanding the creation of a constituent assembly and the scrapping of the EU debt treaty binding governments in the eurozone to austerity targets.

He said protests like the ones occurring on Sunday could spark a debate within Hollande's Socialist Party on the issue.

Many have also gathered for separate protests in Paris and other cities to oppose the government's plans to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption by gay couples.

The demonstrations come with polls showing Hollande as the most unpopular president in modern French history.

Many voters are angered by an economy on the edge of recession and unemployment hitting a 16-year high.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, the Left Front's firebrand candidate in last year's vote, called the protest in Paris last month at the height of a scandal over Hollande's ex-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac being charged with tax fraud.

In an interview on Sunday with newspaper Le Parisien, Melenchon called on Hollande to "return to the left, where he was when he was elected".

'Shareholder interests'

Melenchon accused Hollande of contributing to Europe's economic crisis by focusing on "the interests of shareholders, of big business and of European austerity policies, to the detriment of the workers".

He called for a government reshuffle with himself or Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg - considered one of Hollande's most left-wing ministers - as prime minister.

Opponents of gay marriage are meanwhile have rallied in major cities in a bid to force Hollande to back down from signing a bill approved in parliament last month. 

The bill, which is also facing a constitutional challenge, sparked months of demonstrations across the country, with some descending into violence.

It has been one of the most controversial reforms of Hollande's first year in office, with right-wing opponents demanding the issue be put to a referendum.

Sunday's protests follow another demonstration on Wednesday that brought hundreds of supporters of the far-right National Front to the streets of Paris, as a poll showed Marine Le Pen, its leader, would come second to Sarkozy if an election were held now, far ahead of Hollande in third place.

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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