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France in a week

Far-left protesters reject austerity on Hollande anniversary


May 17, 2013

Ten of thousands of far-left French protesters marched to denounce economic austerity on Sunday to mark the end of President Francois Hollande's first year in office.

The march, organized by the Left Front coalition, drew a range of left-wingers from greens to trade unionists to the symbolic venue of Bastille Square, site of a Paris prison that was stormed during the French Revolution of 1789.

Turnout was estimated by organizers at 180,000 but by police at just 30,000. Although not massive, it highlighted fierce opposition on the left to the Socialist president's market-friendly reforms, such as corporate tax breaks and the loosening of labor rules to make hiring and firing slightly easier.

With France on the edge of recession, unemployment at an all-time high and euro zone partners pressing him to cut the budget deficit, Hollande has suffered the sharpest fall in popularity of any president in more than half a century.



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