Communists and socialists joined forces on Sunday for a massive rally at Paris’s Bastille monument in support of Left Front presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Over 100,000 trade unionists, members of the French Communist Party and disaffected former members of the centrist Socialist Party marched together under red balloons and flags from Paris’s 11th arrondissement to Place de la Bastille.
Mr Melenchon said: «We’re going to make this election on April 22 a civic insurrection.
«The insurrection is for the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties in this France disfigured by social, territorial, cultural and gender inequality.»
Mr Melenchon called on citizens to «turn the page once again on the Ancien Regime, to start a new chapter that will enable us to refound the republic, to refound France itself.»
He called for a higher minimum wage and higher taxes on the super-rich, full restoration of retirement rights at 60, nationalisation of the energy sector and stronger rights at work.
Mr Melenchon concluded: «Long live universal humanity, long live France, long live the social republic,» before leading the crowd in singing the Internationale.
CGT and Communist Party member Jacques Ambroise, a rail worker who travelled from Normandy to join the rally, said that the Left Front will «continue to bring together more and more voters. Melenchon will get a good score in the first round.»
Unemployed graduate Alizee Minkur said that she joined the march to oppose «the dictatorship imposed by the financial markets.»
Ms Minkur said that she had been in the Socialist Party’s youth movement while at university, but she had let her membership lapse because «they were not far enough to the left for me.»
Support for Mr Melenchon, a former Socialist minister, has surged from around 5 per cent in October to 11 per cent in the latest polls.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy is on 27.5 per cent, socialist candidate Francoise Hollande on 27 per cent and Marine Le Pen of the far right National Front on 17 per cent.