Hundreds of thousands of European workers feeling the pinch of the economic crisis rallied at May Day protests today from Moscow to Berlin to Istanbul. Violence and clashes between police and angry protesters disrupted some events, including in Greece, Germany, and Turkey. But overall participation fell short of what many countries' unions had hoped for on May Day, a public holiday that celebrates the achievements of labor movements.
Many of the protesters complained about rising unemployment and lost benefits, but few specifics appeared to emerge from the demonstrations about what governments should be doing to fight the global crisis. In Paris, fractious French labor unions came together for the first time in decades to stage a joint march. "Exasperation is rising," said a French Anticapitalist Party rep. "Why should the people pay for a crisis for which they are absolutely not responsible?"