May 1 (UPI) — Thousands of people took part in traditional May Day protests in France on Sunday as demonstrators in Paris clashed with police.
Many protesters demonstrated peacefully but police stepped in as black-clad members of the group known as “Black Bloc” attempted to put up a barricade to block the march.
Dozens of businesses were also damaged amid the protests including a McDonald’s branch, banks, insurance companies and real estate agencies.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin called the violence at the rallies “unacceptable.”
French unions and left-wing politicians have used the workers’ day demonstrations to express displeasure with recently re-elected President Emmanuel Macron and rally support for the nation’s upcoming parliamentary elections.
Macron, who defeated far-right opponent Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election last week, has faced criticism that he is out of touch with France’s working-class on issues such as the rising cost of living.
Opposing politicians looked to the rallies Sunday to prevent Macron’s centrist La Republique En Marche party from winning a majority during the two-round parliamentary elections on June 12 and June 19.
“Without MPs to support him, Emmanuel Macron will be powerless to apply his harmful project for France and his unfair choices for the French,” Le Pen said in a video to supporters Sunday.
Far-left leader Jean Luc Melenchon, who placed third in the first round of the presidential election, joined the March in Paris amid an effort to gather left-wing parties to unite against Macron.
During the demonstrations, he said the parties were “a few millimeters away” from an electoral agreement.