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May Day strikes: French far-right gains ground as working people’s party

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Adam Allington

May 1, otherwise known as “May Day”, or International Workers Day in Europe, is a day frequently marked by general strikes and demonstrations. This May Day in Paris will be the same—only much more so thanks to the unpopularity of President Macron’s move to raise France's retirement age from 62 to 64.  

Mabel Berezin

Professor of Sociology at Cornell University

Mabel Berezin, professor of sociology at Cornell University and an expert on international populism and fascism, says the French right wing is the real beneficiary from Macron’s sliding approval ratings.

Berezin says:

“Macron’s retirement reforms are vastly unpopular and there have been demonstrations against it all year. A unique feature of this year’s demonstrations is a plan to boost turnout by linking labor actions together with environmental and climate issues. 

“You would think that the left, which is organizing all of the demonstrations, would be the principal beneficiary of Macron’s actions. However, the real beneficiary turns out to be the French Right under the leadership of Marine Le Pen. In an April 5 political poll by a reputable pollster, when asked who they would vote for if the presidential election were held today, Le Pen was in the lead with 55-percent. 

“In the next Presidential election, not until 2027, Le Pen’s opponents are going to have to come up with better arguments than, ‘I am less dangerous than she is!’ The future is, of course, open. But at the moment, Le Pen is gaining traction with her disciplined approach to making the nationalist right the champion of the French working people.”      

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