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Hundreds of Thousands Across France Tell Hollande: "Return to the Left"

Thousands march to berate Hollande for his betrayal of the people

Jon Queally, staff writer

Though always estimated by true progressives in France as more of a centrist, the presidential victory of Francois Hollande one year ago was largely celebrated as victory for the nation's Left movement.

Hollande's defeat of Nicholas Sarkozy was seen as a hopeful sign in the fight against rightwing policies, the dominance of austerity and the nation's economic elite.

But one year later, nearly 200,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to berate Hollande for his betrayal of the people.

The Associated Press reports:

Tens of thousands of supporters of leftist parties are marching through central Paris to express disappointment with President Francois Hollande's first year in power, criticizing the leader for reneging on his promises to rein in the world of finance and enact economic stimulus.

Hollande, a Socialist, won the presidency last May, promising to spare France the austerity measures enacted elsewhere in Europe. He has raised taxes, especially on the rich, and made limited cuts to spending.

France's economy has continued to deteriorate, with growth stagnating and unemployment rising well above 10 percent. Hollande now has the lowest popularity rating of any post-war president.

Supporters of French leftist parties, which together call themselves the Left Front, marched through Paris on Sunday to call on Hollande to change his policies.

And Agence France-Presse—which put the estimated number on the streets of Paris was at least 180,000 people—adds:

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

He 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."

Images of Sunday's rally via AFP:


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