In the biggest demonstrations seen in France for more than a decade, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets yesterday to protest against everything from the global economic crisis to President Nicolas Sarkozy's efforts to shrink the French state.
About 300,000 people – mostly representing the many tribes of a rejuvenated left-wing movement – marched raucously through the centre of Paris to demand higher wages, more job protection and greater government efforts to stop the country from tipping into a deep recession.
In a carnival atmosphere – one of political defiance, rather than deep popular anger – the trades union and left-wing sympathisers marched to a chanted refrain, in English, of "Yes, yes, yes, we can". This must be the first time that any left-wing French demonstration has invoked the absent spirit of an American president. More...