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France

French far-left march against 'right wing' Hollande

media Thousands marched against Hollande's austerity measures on April 12, 2014 REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Far-left political parties and unions took to the streets of Paris Saturday to protest new austerity measures put forth by President François Hollande, who has seen his approval rating plummet to a new low.

Tens of thousands of people marched through the French capital protesting new economic reforms tabled following the recent election drubbing.

Brandishing signs with slogans such as “When you are leftists you support workers” and "Hollande, that's enough", the organisers of the march said they want to create a left-wing alternative to the Socialists, who they say are inching to the right.

"Some groups here are against the government's policy on immigration, others are against its policy on housing, and others are against its policy on jobs,” said New Anticapitalist Party spokesperson Olivier Besancenot. “But everyone here has one point in common: their hearts are on the Left, and they are against this government."

France new right-leaning Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who replaced Jean-Marc Ayrault after the Socialist’s poor showing in last months municipal elections, announced tax and spending cuts on Tuesday, adding that he would bring France’s annual budget deficit in line with Brussel’s targets by 2015.

Hollande, who was elected in 2012 to bring an end to austerity, has further alientated the left with his “Responsibility Pact”, announced earlier this year in a bid to boost French companies by cutting some 30 billion euros in taxes.

Left Party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon told RTL radio that “a 30 billion gift to big business is something monstrous in a period of austerity we live in.”

Some protesters said they were increasingly seeing parallels between Hollande and his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.

"I'm here to say no to Hollande, because since Sarkozy, Hollande has done the same thing. There is a bad concept of the republic,” said Arnaud Guventatam from the Left Party. “We can't see anything different between Sarkozy's politics and Hollande's politics. It's a continuum. We didn't vote for this."

French police said about 25,000 took part in the march, while the French Communist Party estimated the turnout hit 100,000.

Organisers are hoping to mobilise resentment against the Socialists in their favour before European elections in May, where Hollande’s party could face an even bigger blow.

France's least popular president in decades, Hollande's approval rating fell five points, dipping below 20 percent for the first time since 2012.

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