Thousands march through Paris in protest against EU fiscal pact
THOUSANDS of protesters have marched through Paris in protest against the European fiscal pact, the first major display of public anger to face President Francois Hollande since his May election.
The march yesterday was organised by the Left Front coalition and drew trade unionists, far left sympathisers and other opponents of the EU accord, two days before politicians start to debate a draft law of the budget pact in the lower house of parliament.
The pact, which Mr Hollande supports, is expected to pass in both houses of parliament thanks to support from Socialist politicians helped by advocates of fiscal discipline in the centre-right opposition.
But the vote has exposed rifts in Mr Hollande's ruling coalition, with far left allies and Greens planning to vote against it in a challenge to the increasingly unpopular Socialist leader's authority.
If Mr Hollande has to rely on opponents to pass the pact, the vote could deepen the rift in his alliance and embolden left-wing allies seeking a change of course from strict adherence to European deficit targets.
"To him (Hollande), this vote was a formality that simply needed to be rushed through," said Jean-Luc Melenchon, a fiery leftist orator who ranked fourth in the April presidential vote.
"Now he will understand this is not the case, that in France and in the rest of Europe there is an organised opposition to this pact and to all austerity policies." (Reuters)