Students sit outside La Sorbonne university, Thursday, April 14, 2022 in Paris.
Hundreds of French students on Thursday blocked or occupied buildings at multiple universities across Paris to show their anger over France’s upcoming presidential election.
Their main grievance is with what they perceive as the limited choice between centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen at the presidential run-off later on in the month.
Protestors claimed neither would do enough to protect the poor or the environment.
Multiple incidents and reported blockages were reported to Paris police at various universities throughout Thursday.
At the political sciences institute Sciences-Po, where Macron himself studied, left-wing students barricaded the university’s main entrance with rubbish bins and banners.
A separate video, posted by a far-right student group, appeared to show youths seeking to clear the barricade by tossing parts of it aside.
“We are all anti-fascists” was chanted by students at the prestigious Sorbonne, who threw leaflets from the windows of buildings.
Police fired tear gas at one point in an attempt to stop more students from arriving at the protest.
One of their banners read: “Sorbonne occupied against Macron, Le Pen and their world.”
Many of the protestors are supporters of the left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who lost out on a chance at the presidency after falling one percentage point between Le Pen in the first round of France’s presidential vote.
“We tried Emmanuel Macron and we didn’t like it, and Le Pen in power — we don’t even want to try it, it is a repulsive possibility,” said one student who gave her name only as Lola at the Sorbonne.
Gabriel Vergnes, a student at Sciences-Po added: “Since young people are concerned with environmental issues, with social issues, with antiracist, feminist and LGBTQ issues, it is very necessary to have a candidate to represent us.”
“We now have a second round with only two right-wing candidates who are the enemies of the workers and of the youth, and we can’t accept that, we can’t accept five more years of austerity and pollution,” he continued.
Many voters on the left in France see Le Pen as a threat due to her anti-immigration stance and criticism of Islam, while they perceive Macron as a “president of the rich” who has pursued a pro-business agenda.
Macron is currently leading in the polls ahead of the decisive second round, but Le Pen is close behind.
How Melenchon supporters vote will be crucial in deciding who is the next French president.