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Power to the people of France


In Paris – an all-too familiar sight. Demonstrators take to the streets in protest.

Their target: a new labour law said necessary to create jobs. Opponents argue it threatens them.

Anger over this law has produced a series of protests and strikes aimed at bringing President Hollande’s socialist government to its knees.

It’s also produced a new movement that calls itself Nuit debout or “At Night on our Feet”.

Sophie Tissier, Nuit debout’s citizens’ movement: “Nuit debout represents the people who have become conscious that the political system doesn’t work anymore, and that it’s up to them to take back the political reins.”

Helena Aujames, Nuit debout’s citizens’ movement: “There are many people who believe that the power of the Nuit debout movement is that it is an “agora” – where public speech becomes public once again.”

Another familiar site: tear gas and confrontations between anarchists and riot police at the end of the demonstration.

A violent message but nonetheless a message of growing frustration in France’s current social climate that laws are being passed without listening to the people.

After the demonstration, euronews caught up with Nuit debout at their “headquarters” at Place de la Republique – the site they’ve occupied since March 31.

For this Nuit debout member, clashes at the end of the protest don’t surprise or bother him.

Jules Ragueneau, Nuit debout’s citizens’ movement: “These violent movements are inherent in all demonstrations. I have done a lot of protests and there are always these type of movements at the end. They don’t worry me anymore than that.”

For Jules, like other Nuit debout militants, this is what is important: giving a voice back to the people.

Everyday there is a general assembly where anyone can speak and voting is done by a raise of hands or a turn of wrists. Today the discussion centers around the protest and ongoing strikes.

But there are also other committees and commissions focusing on a wide range of topics.

Jules Ragueneau, Nuit debout’s citizens’ movement: “Nuit debout is a horizontal movement, where everyone is equal. There is no bonus for those who have been here the longest. There are people who have been here since the beginning, some arrived later and some are still arriving. It’s just a fact and it’s not what determines who is the most important here.”

A movement of the people where everyone is equal, and all ideas are welcome. And since it began two and a half months ago, Nuit debout has mushroomed where almost anything or anyone can “stand on its feet”.