Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Protesters call on French to vote against the far-right National Rally party

People protest in Paris against the far-right party   -  
Copyright © africanews
Thomas Padilla/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


Thousands of people gathered in Paris on Wednesday to protest against the results of the first round of the French legislative elections in which the far-right National Rally party secured the most votes.

Many unions, independent media, and citizens' organisations were behind the demonstration, calling on voters to block the far right from winning the second round due to take place on Sunday.

They fear a far right victory could curtail civil liberties because of the National Rally’s history of xenophobia and antisemitism.

"If the far right wins, I don't know what will become of my friends who are foreign students," said Salomé Hocquard, Vice-President of the National Union of Students of France (UNEF), one of the organisers of the protest.

"Or all the French people who have dual nationality who will be stigmatised, LGBTQ people, people of colour. What will become of women? Because the far right is the enemy of all these people."

To prevent the National Rally from obtaining a 289-seat majority, the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) coalition and French President Emmanuel Macron's party, Ensemble, have made a pact.

They said they would withdraw their candidates in districts where they finished third in order to support other stronger candidates opposed to the National Rally (RN) in next Sunday's vote.

This tactic, known as the Front Républicain (the Republican Front), worked in the past when the far right was considered a political outcast.

If voters mobilise massively, there is a chance that they could block the National Rally from winning an absolute majority in parliament. But voter fatigue is a major hurdle.

Laïla Idtaleb, a representative of the Human Rights League of France, said she understands that people are "are fed up" and do not want to go vote.

"We're all tired of voting against the far right at every election. But this one is not like the others, because the far right is at the gates of power and is capable of winning an absolute majority," she said.

However, not everyone at the demonstration agreed with the general message. 

One older man, Rémi, came to the protest out of curiosity. He's a staunch NR supporter and said he was proud that he voted for a far-right candidate in the first round.

"Voting for a far-right party is a vote that shows the general discontent of the French, who can no longer live in safety due to the influx of migrants," he said.

"This rally doesn't reflect the state of mind of the French. It's just a few people who got together, but the people in the heart of France, in the countryside, think differently. And they’re far more numerous than what's going on here."

The National Rally came out on top in the 2024 European elections in more than 32,000 out of 35,000 French municipalities, while big cities like Paris and Lyon tended to vote for left-wing candidates.

View more