FRANCE

Macron blames critics for May Day violence

Black Block demonstrators confront police on this week's May Day demonstration in Paris
Black Block demonstrators confront police on this week's May Day demonstration in Paris REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
2 min

French President Emmanuel Macron has blamed politicians who "stir up unrest" for the violence on Wednesday's May Day demonstration, for which 43 people were still in detention on Thursday morning. A hard-left MP hit back with an accusation that the president does not accept democracy.

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Shortly before leaving Australia for the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, Macron told the media that "Those elected representatives who constantly stir up unrest, it's their fault" when asked about the May Day violence.

"I think there are a lot of people who want to replay the democratic games," he went on. "They never accepted defeat."

Asked if he meant Jean-Luc Mélenchon's hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) party, Macron replied that he was talking about "people who propose demonstrations or parties", an apparent reference to Saturday's "Macron party", organised at the suggestion of LFI MP François Ruffin.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux on Wednesday said the authorities "feared violence" at Saturday'e event, which the organisers insist will be "festive" and peaceful.

"I'm not questioning Mr Macron's election," Ruffin responded on Thursday. "It's he who doesn't accept democracy [because] democracy doesn't mean you shut up for five years."

He accused the president of implementing policies that were not in his manifesto, like the scrapping of the "exit tax" on capital leaving the country, which Macron promised in an interview with Forbes magazine this week.

Macron and his ministers are on edge because there were more demonstrators than they had expected, he claimed.

Striking rail workers demonstrated in Paris on Thursday afternoon, four days ahead of a meeting of their unions and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on the reform of the national network.

On Thursday, day one of a two-day block of their staggered strike against the plan, about 30 percent of employees needed to make the trains run stopped work, according to management figures.

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