French police arrest 70 people at Armistice Day ceremony

Tuesday 12 November 2013 16.39
New polls show Francois  Hollande's popularity ratings have fallen
New polls show Francois Hollande's popularity ratings have fallen

French police arrested about 70 people at an Armistice Day memorial ceremony after protesters, whom the government said were linked to the far-right, booed President Francois Hollande.
              
Newscasters said it was the first time a French head of state had been jeered on 11 November.

Every year there is a commemoration of the signing of the armistice in 1918 between World War One allies and Germany.
              
Scuffles erupted between police and protesters as the Socialist president's motorcade drove up the Champs-Elysees to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris. 

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said they included members of far-right groups opposed to government policies such as same-sex marriages.
              
"Today on the Champs-Elysees, several dozen individuals linked to the far right ... did not want to respect this moment of contemplation and gathering," Mr Valls told reporters,describing their actions as "unacceptable".
              
The 70 were arrested because the demonstration was not authorised, said a source at the presidential palace.
              
One protester told BFM-TV the boos and gibes were targeted purely at Mr Hollande. "I find it absolutely shameful that we don't have the right to speak up without being arrested," said the woman.

"Saying 'Hollande, step down' is not offensive."
              
"We have the impression that he's not listening so we have to protest," she said, without specifying why she wanted the president to resign.
              
Polls published today by Opinion Way and Ipsos showed Mr Hollande's popularity ratings, pummelled by an ailing economy, heavy taxes and other issues, at a mere 22% and 21%, respectively.
              
Those ratings fell below the 25% approval rating in a CSA survey published Friday, which had put his popularity at the lowest level of any president since the founding of France's Fifth Republic 55 years ago.
              
Protests have forced Mr Hollande to give ground over planned tax increases, including most recently a new levy on heavy trucks that mobilised hundreds in the western region of Brittany. 

Mr Hollande has now deferred but not scrapped the levy.
              
Mr Valls said today's protesters included members of the far-right National Front, whose popularity has risen on the back of widespread public discontent ahead of municipal and European elections scheduled for next year.