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Right and left march on May Day

Thursday, May 01, 2014 - 02:37

May 1 - Workers are staging traditional May Day protests across Europe but do they have less cause to demonstrate this year as the euro zone crisis begins to ease?

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A celebration of Spring - for many, a time to party. May Day gets off to a bang in Istanbul - but there's little good cheer - demonstrators angered by a protest ban. UPSOT SMOKE GRENADE EXPLOSION Contrast Moscow's parade - it still bears the hallmarks of the Soviet era. Many waving banners in support of President Putin's annexation of Crimea ..... ... while pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine were looking forward to another May date: the 11th, and a referendum on joining Russia. SOUNDBITE (Russian) SLAVIANSK RESIDENT, VITALY VYATKIN, SAYING: "We want to live freely in our land. We don't want fascists here." Other Ukrainians - these in the capital Kiev - were looking west, rather than east. SOUNDBITE (Russian) LYUDMYLA, KIEV RESIDENT, SAYING: "I am for peace, a better life. But if we are invited into Europe, I will be happy to join Europe." But Europe has problems of its own. Greeks in Athens used May Day to denounce years of austerity. Communist Party leader, Dimitris Koutsoubas. SOUNDBITE (Greek) COMMUNIST PARTY LEADER, DIMITRIS KOUTSOUBAS, SAYING: "What is needed today is a strong opposition, to open the road for the rights of workers and to smash the monopolies of Europe.." With one in four Greeks out of work, some say the recovery story is overblown. Brenda Kelly of IG. SOUNDBITE (English), Brenda Kelly, Chief Market Strategist, IG, saying: ''Greece very much in the headlines, in respect of tranches and bailouts. And you also have Spain's unemployment creeping up higher just this week. So I think from that perspective there's a feeling of 'extend and pretend' within the greater financial media. And from that perspective, I don't think it really gives you a good clue as to what's happening in the underlying economy.'' The rise of the right is also threatening a shock for incumbents in European elections later this month. Marine Le Pen, France's National Front leader, laid a wreath for the country's medieval heroine, Joan of Arc. SOUNDBITE (French) National Front Leader, Marine Le Pen, saying: "The reality is that the European people are rising up against the European Union, they're rising up for their future, they're rising up for their freedom and obviously that can only encourage us." The old order should, 'though, remain intact - even if extreme right or left-wing parties do well in France, Spain and Italy. Mike Gallagher of Ideaglobal. SOUNDBITE (English), Mike Gallagher, Director of Research, Ideaglobal, saying: ''In the European parliament, we're still looking at a grand coalition. Across Europe, most governments still remain firmly in control. So I think it's an expression of still some anger and upset, but it doesn't radically sort of change the European political landscape.'' May Day has a long tradition of celebrating worker rights. With high unemployment and a slow return to growth, the voice of protest is likely to be heard for some time to come.

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Right and left march on May Day

Thursday, May 01, 2014 - 02:37