French Elections: Nationwide Protests Called Against The Far-Right

'Better a vote that stinks than a vote that kills': Protesters demonstrate against the rise of the far-right in French politics, on April 16, 2022 in Paris, France. Between the two voting rounds in the French presidential elections, over 30 protests have been called across the country at the initiative of the Human Rights League, and several professional and student unions in opposition to the far-right. The second round of voting will see incumbent Emmanuel Macron face far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, a choice many on the left have called as being "between two evils". (Photo by Sam Tarling/Getty Images)

French Elections: Tens of Thousands Marched Saturday Against Far-Right Le Pen

A new poll out Saturday by Ipsos Sopra/Steria shows Macron leading with 55.5 percent versus 44.5 percent for Le Pen

Tens of thousands of anti-far right protesters marched across France on Saturday as opponents of presidential candidate Marine Le Pen seek to form a united front to prevent her from winning ahead of next weekend's presidential run-off.

Macron, a centrist, defeated Le Pen in 2017 when voters rallied behind him in the run-off to keep her far-right party out of power.

This year, the first round of voting last Sunday set up the same battle, but Macron is facing a much tougher challenge.

In central Paris, thousands of people gathered chanting anti-far right slogans and warning of democratic upheaval if Le Pen were to win.

Banners read: "Against the far-right. For justice and equality, not Le Pen at the Elysee," and "Better a vote that stinks than a vote that kills."

The protesters made it overwhelmingly clear that in saying "no to the far-right" they don't like Emmanuel Macron either -- but will reluctantly hold their noses and vote for the current president in order to defeat the far-right Le Pen.

"Not a single vote for Marine Le Pen!" chanted hundreds in the city of Lille--echoing left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon in a speech to supporters last weekend.

"If the far-right is in power we will see a major collapse of the democratic, anti-racism and progressive camps," Dominique Sopo, president of SOS Racism, which along with dozens of rights groups, unions and associations called for the protests, told Reuters. "People need to realize that despite their anger towards Emmanuel Macron and his policies, there is no equivalence between a liberal, conservative candidate and a far-right candidate."

Macron promised to put the environment at the heart of his government if he is re-elected next weekend.

At at a rally in the port city of Marseille in southern France on Saturday designed to appeal to young and green-minded voters Macron told the crowd: "I hear the anxiety that exists in a lot of our young people. I see young people, adolescents, who are fearful about the future of our planet." "The far-right is a risk to our country," Macron said.

A new poll out Saturday by Ipsos Sopra/Steria shows Macron leading with 55.5 percent versus 44.5 percent for Le Pen.

Also Saturday Extinction Rebellion activists forced the closure of a main square in central Paris, protesting against the climate positions of both Le Pen and Macron.

"This election leaves us no choice between a far-right candidate with repugnant ideas ... and a candidate who during five years cast the ecology issue aside and lied," Lou, 26, a history teacher, who joined the environmentalist movement two years ago, told Reuters.

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