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François Hollande heads into second year amidst mass protests

media French President François Hollande. Reuters/Charles Platiau

French President François Hollande celebrates his first year in office tomorrow, as his approval ratings are at their lowest. In anticipation of the day, protests were planned for Sunday by far-left wing groups to demonstrate against austerity in Paris, while anti-gay marriage protests continued across the country.

Far-left party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said on Sunday that he expected 100,000 people at his protest in Paris for a “6th French Republic," to create a new France.

The march will also concentrate on fighting against austerity plans and big business.

“François Hollande has divided everyone – the unions, the left-wing political forces – and we will fight against all of this,” Melenchon told the AFP news agency on Sunday, prior to the march.

Melenchon has concentrated his attacks against Hollande in recent months, as the far-left party has felt increasingly shunned by the socialists.

Meanwhile, opponents to gay marriage lead their own protests over the weekend, despite the bill passing on 23 April.

On Sunday, protests were planned in Paris and several of France’s big cities. While on Saturday, some thousand people demonstrated in Strasbourg to fight against medically assisted procreation, which has not yet been made part of the gay marriage and adoption bill.

As Hollande and his socialist government embark on their second year, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will organise a working meeting on Monday to prepare the upcoming months in government. There, leaders will address recovering public funds, supporting economic activity, fighting unemployment, and finding solutions for housing, health and retirement concerns.

François Hollande finds himself, one year after his election, leading a country on the edge of recession. Unemployment is at 11 percent, with no signs of numbers going down, while growth is at a standstill. Hopes of reducing the budget deficit to three percent by 2013 have been put on hold.

With nearly three-quarters of the French public expressing “discontent” with their current leader, Hollande has become one of the most unpopular presidents after one year in office.


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