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France: left-wing groups celebrate election results with riots

Several French capitals were the scene of violent clashes between supporters of the New Popular Front and the forces of law and order.

A woman walks in front of riot police in Paris on election night.(EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

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On Sunday night, Paris, Lyon, and Rennes witnessed clashes between French left-wing protesters and law enforcement. Supporters of the left-wing coalition, the New Popular Front (NFP), staged several riots as authorities announced the election results.

The acts of vandalism occurred despite the optimistic interpretation of the election results. The New Popular Front won 178 seats in the National Assembly in the second round of the elections. Meanwhile, the National Rally (RN for its French acronym) did not obtain the expected number of representatives and remained down as the third coalition.

If after the first round there were riots due to the good results of the RN, who is labeled as extreme right wing, this Sunday's riots were due to the "victory of the left." The riots started around midnight. In Paris, supporters of the NFP gathered at the Plaza de la République and riots began when the forces of order were used to clear the place.

Soon, large groups of leftists dispersed into the surrounding streets of Paris, clashing with police using a variety of objects and fireworks. During the riots there were also attacks on businesses and bank branches. Many merchants had already anticipated riots after the poll and had reinforced the security of their establishments.

Several recorded images show how the police charge to disperse the demonstrators and throw sting-ball grenades as well as smoke and gas canisters. Vandals respond with stones, rockets and barricades. Some fires were also reported which damaged several vehicles and street furniture.

The scenes in Paris were replicated in other major French cities such as Lyon in Nantes. In the latter city, a policeman was seriously injured after being hit by a Molotov cocktail.