World Bulletin / News Desk
Thousands of protesters marched through Paris on Sunday against a European fiscal pact, the first major display of public anger to face President Francois Hollande since his May election.
The march organised by the Left Front coalition drew trade unionists, far-left sympathisers and other opponents of the EU accord, two days before lawmakers start to debate a draft law of the budget pact in the lower house of parliament.
The budget discipline pact, which Hollande supports, is expected to pass in both houses of parliament thanks to support from Socialist lawmakers helped by advocates of fiscal discipline in the centre-right opposition.
But the vote has exposed rifts in Hollande's ruling coalition, with far-left allies and Greens planning to vote against it in a challenge to the increasingly unpopular Socialist leader's authority.
If Hollande has to rely on opponents to pass the pact, the vote could deepen the rift in his alliance and embolden left-wing allies seeking a change of course from strict adherence to European deficit targets.
"To him (Hollande), this vote was a formality that simply needed to be rushed through," said Jean-Luc Melenchon, a fiery leftist orator who ranked fourth in an April presidential vote.
"Now he will understand this is not the case, that in France and in the rest of Europe there is an organised opposition to this pact and to all austerity policies."
Wearing his signature red scarf, Melenchon marched at the head of protesters among giant banners bearing slogans such as "Francois Hollande, We Don't Want Your Treaty" and "In Greece and in France, Let's Fight Against Finance".
It was the latest in a series of protests across southern Europe this week as tens of thousands took to streets in Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal to voice their anger over hardship imposed by austerity policies.
For Hollande, the outcry from many people who voted him into power highlights the difficulty of pleasing a largely left-wing support base even as he shuns painful cuts to welfare programmes.
A 2013 budget unveiled on Friday shaves 30 billion euros off the public deficit, largely through tax increases on big businesses and the wealthy. But it avoids the type of painful austerity measures imposed elsewhere in Europe.
Efforts to preserve the generous public safety net have done little to preserve Hollande's approval rating, which has plummeted since his election, hitting a low of 43 percent in one poll last week.
"This treaty will considerably worsen the situation in the European Union and in France," said one protester, Pierre Khalfa. "We can already see that austerity policies in Europe are leading to recession, so we need to start a movement against these policies, which will lead our country into a wall."
Left Front organisers said some 40,000 people joined the Paris protest. Police declined to provide an estimate.
India will buy at least 8,000 Spike missiles and more than 300 launchers in a deal worth 32 billion rupees ($525 million), the source
As pro-Russian separatists control more than half of the coal mines in Ukraine, government looks elsewhere to supply coal demand.
Business executives warn of an investment slowdown, while the government wants companies to diversify sales.
The money will be used to develop infrastructure, power distribution and business cooperation, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said
If Russian oil giant Rosneft's request for $49 billion from the government is not met, Russia could face larger budgetary and revenue problems, say experts
China launched the first stage of an Asian development bank, in what is widely seen as a challenge to U.S.-backed international banks.
Aid agencies are tentatively also giving away cash and letting refugees decide for themselves what they need. The money is being wisely spent and rarely wasted
The research firm IHS estimated this week that ISIL militants were producing about $2 million worth of crude oil a day before recent U.S.-led air strikes.
The conflict between Turkish and Greek Cypriots on the island continues over the ownership of the hydrocarbon reserves in the exclusive economic zones off the shore of the island
Aeroplane maker company Boeing sells plane parts to Iran, as part of easing the sanctions and first step since 1979
OPEC's second-largest producer, Iran is normally among the first members of the oil producers' group to call for supply cuts to support prices.
The 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) bloc said they would advance structural reforms to unleash new sources of growth.
Ukraine needs to pay its previous debt to Russia by the end of the year and pay in advance for getting new volumes of natural gas
The loss of Khafji's 280,000 barrels per day of Arabian Heavy crude will be felt more in Kuwait, which has far less spare output than its neighbour
Under Lufthansa's proposals, pilots would still be able to retire early, but the age would gradually increase to 60 from 55.