May Day rallies in Europe honor protest workers and governments

PARIS – Citizens and unions from cities across Europe took to the streets on Sunday for May Day marches and to send messages of protest to their governments, particularly in France, where the holiday to honor workers was being used as a rallying cry. against the newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron.

The First of May is a moment of great emotion for the participants and their causes, with the police ready. Turkish police acted quickly in Istanbul and surrounded protesters near Taksim Square, where 34 people were killed in 1977 during a May 1 event when shots were fired into the crowd from a nearby building.

On Sunday, police detained 164 people for demonstrating without permission and resisting police in the square, the Istanbul governor’s office said. At a venue on the Asian side of Istanbul, a May 1 rally drew thousands, chanting, chanting and waving flags, a rally organized by the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey.

In Italy, after two years of pandemic break, an open-air mega-concert was scheduled for Rome with rallies and protests in cities across the country. In addition to work, peace was an underlying theme with calls for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Italy’s three main labor unions were concentrating their main rally in the hilltop city of Assisi, a frequent destination for peace protests. This year’s slogan is “Working for Peace”.

“It is a 1st of May of social and civil commitment to peace and work”, said the head of the Italian trade union CISL, Daniela Fumarola.

Further protests were planned across Europe, including in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, where students and others planned to demonstrate in support of Ukraine, while communists, anarchists and anti-European Union groups held their own meetings.

In France, the May 1 rallies – a week after the presidential election – are aimed at showing Macron the opposition he could face in his second five-year term and fortifying himself against his centrists ahead of legislative elections in June. Opposition parties, notably the far left and far right, are trying to break most of his government.

Protests were planned across France, with a focus on Paris, where the communist-backed CGT union was leading the main march through eastern Paris, joined by a handful of other unions. Everyone is pushing Macron for policies that put the people first and condemning his plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65.

At first, far-right leader Marine Le Pen was absent from her party’s traditional wreath at the foot of a Joan of Arc statue, replaced by the interim president of her National Rally party. Le Pen was defeated by Macron in the second round of Sunday’s presidential election and plans to campaign to retain her seat as lawmaker.

“I came to tell the French that the vote is not over yet. There is a third round, the legislative elections,” Jordan Bardella said, “and it would be unbelievable to leave full power to Emmanuel Macron.”

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Nicole Winfield in Rome and Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul contributed to this report.

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