PARIS AP - Citizens and trade unions in cities around Europe took to the streets on Sunday for May Day marches, and put out protest messages to their governments, particularly in France, where the holiday to honor workers was being used as a rallying cry against newly reelected President Emmanuel Macron.
May Day is a time of high emotion for participants and their causes, with police on the ready. Turkish police moved in quickly in Istanbul and encircled protesters near the barred-off Taksim Square - where 34 people were killed during a May Day event when shots were fired into the crowd from a nearby building.
The Istanbul governor s office said on Sunday that 164 people were arrested for demonstrating without permits and resisting police at the square. A May Day gathering in Istanbul attracted thousands of singing, chanting and waving banners, a demonstration organized by the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey.
An outdoor mega-concert in Rome was set for Rome after a two-year epidemic lull, with rallies and protests in cities across the country. Peace was an underlying theme with calls for an end to Russia's war in Ukraine.
Italy s three main labor unions were focusing their main rally on the hilltop town of Assisi, a frequent destination for peace protests. This year s slogan is Working for Peace. It is a May Day of social and civil commitment for peace and labor, according to Daniela Fumarola, head of Italy's CISL union.
Other protests were planned far and wide in Europe, including in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, where students and others planned to rally in support of Ukraine as communists, anarchists and anti-European Union groups held their own gatherings.
In France, the May Day rallies a week after the presidential election are aimed at showing Macron the opposition he could face in his second five-year term and to challenge his centrists before June's legislative elections. Opposition parties, including the far left and far right, are looking to break up his government's majority.
Protests were planned across France with a focus on Paris, where the Communist-backed CGT union led the main march through eastern Paris, joined by a handful of other unions. All are calling for policies that put the people first and condemning his plan to raise retirement age from 62 to 65.
In a first, far-right leader Marine Le Pen was absent from her party's traditional wreath-laying at the foot of a statue of Joan of Arc, replaced by the interim president of her National Rally party. Le Pen was defeated by Macron in the run-off of the presidential election and plans to campaign to keep her seat as a lawmaker.
I have come to tell the French that the voting isn't over. There is a third round of legislative elections, and it would be unbelievable to leave full power to Emmanuel Macron, said Jordan Bardella.