Tens of thousands of people marched Sunday in cities around Europe for May Day protests to honor workers and shame governments into doing more for their citizens. In France, protesters shouted slogans against newly reelected President Emmanuel Macron, a development that may set the tone for his second term, the AP reports. Tensions erupted in Paris, as demonstrators smashed windows at some banks, a fast-food restaurant, and a real estate agency, apparently partially the work of masked men dressed in black. Police moved in, firing tear gas. Some 250 marches and protests were being held around the country, all pressing Macron for policies that put people first and condemning his plan to raise France's retirement age from 62 to 65. Macron says that's the only way the government can continue to provide good retirement benefits.
Rising inflation and fears of upcoming food shortages from the war in Ukraine were feeding demonstrations around the world, including:
- Turkey: Police moved in quickly in Istanbul to encircle protesters near the barred-off Taksim Square—where 34 people were killed In 1977 during a May Day event. On Sunday, police detained 164 people for demonstrating without permits and resisting police at the square, officials said. On the Asian side of sprawling Istanbul, a May Day union-organized gathering drew thousands who sang, chanted, and waved banners.
- Berlin: Mayor Franziska Giffey briefly interrupted her May Day speech at a trade union rally where someone threw an egg at her but missed. Giffey, of the center-left Social Democrats, was met by loud protests during her speech. Giffey called the egg tossing "neither helpful nor politically valuable.”
- Italy: After a two-year pandemic lull, an outdoor mega-concert was held in Rome after rallies and protests in cities across the country. Besides improving conditions for workers, peace was an underlying theme, with many calls for an end to Russia's war in Ukraine. Italy's three main labor unions held a rally in the hilltop town of Assisi, a frequent destination for peace protests. "It's a May Day of social and civil commitment for peace and labor," said the head of Italy's CISL union.
- North Macedonia: Thousands of workers, unemployed people, and retirees marched peacefully in the capital of Skopje, demanding wage increases and respect for workers' rights. Inflation, running at an annual clip of 8.8% in March, is at a 14-year-high. Darko Dimovski, head of the country's Federation of Trade Unions, told the crowd that workers are demanding an across-the-board wage increase. "The economic crisis has eaten up workers' salaries," he said.
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