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No honeymoon for Macron as thousands protest at May Day rallies in France

Thousands of people protested across France on May Day to urge the government to act on purchasing power and pensions, putting pressure on newly reelected President Emmanuel Macron.

While most of the protesters demonstrated peacefully, dozens of businesses were damaged in Paris, including a McDonald’s branch, banks, insurance companies and real estate agencies. According to media reports, police intervened after black-clad members of the radical Black Bloc group tried to erect a barricade and stop the progress of the march.

Left-wing politicians aimed to use the May Day rallies, organized by labor unions, to mobilize voters ahead of France’s parliamentary election in June, arguing that Macron only represents the wealthy and is out of touch with everyday concerns such as the surging cost of living. Macron has dismissed such criticism and insisted he has more economically sound policies for tackling the problem.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who came third in the first round of the presidential election last month, attended the Paris march and called on left-wing parties to unite against Macron. His France Unbowed party is currently in talks with the Socialist Party about a pre-election pact.

Macron comfortably won another term in the election’s second round last Sunday, garnering 58.5 percent of the vote to defeat far-right leader Marine Le Pen. But he has acknowledged he faces a deeply divided country.

The parliamentary election, which takes place over two rounds on June 12 and 19, is the country’s next political battleground. Both Le Pen and Mélenchon are out to stop Macron’s centrist La République En Marche party from winning a majority in parliament that would give him free rein to implement his agenda.

“Without MPs to support him, Emmanuel Macron will be powerless to apply his harmful project for France and his unfair choices for the French,” Le Pen said in a video shared with her supporters on Sunday.

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