The demonstrations took place amid rising inflation and fuel shortages.
Massive crowds of protesters took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to voice discontent over the rising cost of living. It comes as the country’s largest trade union continues a refinery strike that has closed gas stations across the country.
The protest was organized by Jean-Luc Melenchon, a former presidential candidate and leader of the left-wing France Unbowed (LFI) party. A number of other leftist parties and organizations participated, with some calling on President Emmanuel Macron to take stronger action against climate change.
However, economic concerns are first and foremost on the minds of protesters. “It’s not the march of Mr. Melenchon,” the LFI leader told France 3 TV on Sunday morning. “It’s a march of the people who are hungry, who are cold and who want to be better paid.”
“The rise in prices is unbearable,” LFI deputy Manon Aubry told AFP. “It is the greatest loss of purchasing power in 40 years.”
— NiCoLeEliSei (@NiCoLeEliSei1) October 16, 2022
France’s inflation rate currently stands at 6%, while almost all of the country’s industrial sectors have recorded a drop in activity due to rising energy costs, largely a result of the EU’s sanctioning of Russian fossil fuels following the launch of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. With household energy bills soaring, firewood is once again in demand in France, and power outages have been forecast.
Clashes between far-left radicals – a regular fixture at French protests – and police officers were reported, with riot police firing tear gas to subdue the black-clad rioters.
‼️???????? Affrontements à Paris : des milliers de Français protestent contre l'effondrement de l'économie causé par les mesures anti-russes.
— Brainless Frogz (@BrainlessFrogz) October 16, 2022
Amid the protests, France’s CGT trade union is continuing strikes at oil refineries, demanding pay rises for workers. The strikes, which have been ongoing for three weeks, have caused shortages and rationing at gas stations. GCT said on Saturday that it rejected a pay offer from oil giant TotalEnergies.