May 01, 2002: May Day Special

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Over a Million March for May Day in Paris
There’s been an enormous response in France today to calls to turn traditional May Day demonstrations into a huge ” no ” to far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen becoming president.  Le Pen beat Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in the first round of the country’s presidential election and faces outgoing president Jacques Chirac, who’s the mainstream right candidate, in the deciding round next Sunday.  That’s woken up the left with at least half a million people marching in provincial towns and cities this morning and a huge crowd filling the streets of Paris this afternoon. Raphael Krafft reports.

Le Pen Supporters March Too
For Le Pen it isn’t May Day, its Joan of Arc Day– Since 1988 his National Front has marched in Paris in the morning. Despite his election boost, Nick Champeau reports, he must have been disappointed by the turnout.

The Rise of the Right
France isn’t the only country to see a rise of the far right at the moment, they’re even part of the governing coalitions in Italy and Austria.  In France there was another form of protest vote, left parties which refused to join the government won over 10%, on of them was the LCR, the Revolutionary Communist League.  Tony Cross spoke to LCR Veteran, Alain Krivine and asked him if many voters in the rich countries don’t feel that the content has gone out of politics now.

May Day Everywhere
In Turkey, police broke up demonstrations in mainly-Kurdish areas of the country, but marches were allowed to go ahead in Istanbul and Ankara. Syrian workers marched in solidarity with the Palestinians. In Germany, there was the usual large turnout. Overnight anti-fascists clashed with police in an effort to stop a march by the far-right National Democratic Party.  In Australia, labor activists protested an inquiry into the construction industry which may lead to a ban on the construction trade union — and they declared solidarity with refugees stuck in detentions camps in the desert.  Socialist Party member Steven Jolly explains why.

Workers and others protest in Argentina
May Day protests in Argentina came after a 10,000 strong demonstration in the streets of Buenos Aires last Thursday. As Sebastian Hatcher and Pablo Moreno report from Buenos Aires, it marked the first time students, workers, the unemployed, and the middle class have come together to protest IMF policies.

US Undocumented Workers
In Washington today over 300 representatives from immigrant rights organizations and labor groups make their first major effort to lobby members of congress for immigration reforms. They call on President Bush and lawmakers to support legislation for a new program to legalize undocumented workers and to recognize the contributions immigrants make to the U-S economy. Kata Mester has more from Capitol Hill.

The Origins of May Day
May Day — International Workers Day – has its origins in the U-S – in the nineteenth century battle for an eight-hour day. From the city that gave us the Haymarket Martyrs – could be called the birthplace of international workers’ day, here’s Chris Geovanis of Chicago Indymedia.

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