Paris in flames: Tear gas fired at rioters as Macron walks 'tightrope' in election gamble

1 week ago 5

France

A member of the public is seen dousing flames with a fire extinguisher (Image: GETTY)

France erupted into violence last night as police used tear gas on left-wing protesters on the streets of several major cities including Paris.

Meanwhile one Brussels insider has warned French President Emmanuel Macron risks becoming a "lame duck" if his bold decision to call an election backfires.

Demonstrators voiced their anger after the far-right made substantial gains following the weekend’s European Parliamentary elections.

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally took 32 percent of the vote on Sunday night, more than double the total of Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance Party, on 14.6 percent.

Macron responded by dissolving Parliament and calling a snap election which will be held in two stages, on June 30 and July 7.

And the febrile atmosphere within the country was illustrated by rallies in the capital, Bordeaux and Strasbourg - the formal seat of the European Parliament.

One clip, shot in Strasbourg, showed police throwing tear gas canisters with their bare hands down a wide street.

A second, in Bordeaux, showed riot police marching along a narrow street, firing tear gas at protesters.

A third, in Paris, showed protesters in the famous Place de la Republique apparently throwing firecrackers at police and pursuing them.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has called a snap general election (Image: Getty)

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Many were holding placards voicing their opposition to both Ms Le Pen - twice defeated by Mr Macron in French Presidential elections - and her protege Jordan Bardella.

One simple read “F*** Jordan Bardella” while another proclaimed: “France is not Bardella.”

Ms Le Pen and Mr Bardella on Sunday shared a stage as she proclaimed: “We are ready to take power if the French show trust in us.”

Far-right parties have made gains throughout the European Union, including Belgium, Germany and Austria.

However, European Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen has insisted “the centre is holding” while acknowledging: “The world around us is in turmoil.”

The EU election is the first since Britain quit the EU, as well since the pandemic swept the globe and Vladimir Putin ordered his invasion of Ukraine.

Paris

Protesters in Paris's Place de la Republique (Image: GETTY)

Speaking last night about the impact of National Rally securing almost a third of the vote, Pieter Cleppe, editor of BrusselsReport.eu, told Express.co.uk: “This will have a big impact.

“I think he will be wary to support von der Leyen just before the national parliament elections at the end of June, which he had to call after his party's losses in the EP elections.

“Then others think he may no longer bother and focus now on the domestic situation. The problem is that von der Leyen is not liked in France, so appointing her may harm his party's chances.”

In effect, Mr Macron was “walking a tightrope”, Mr Cleppe pointed out.

As for his decision to call an election, he added: “The risk is he may become a lame duck President and a hostile PM may obstruct his EU policies, as the distribution of power on foreign policy isn't all that clear.”

Eric Ciotti, President of the centre-right Republicans party, today said he was open to an idea of an alliance with National Rally - something which would represent a significant threat to Mr Macron.

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