PARIS — Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of the French capital Saturday, condemning the liberalizing labor laws of President Emmanuel Macron.

The demonstrators gathered at the behest of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the radical leftist who has emerged as the principal opposition figure to France’s centrist president, a former investment banker.

Two and a quarter centuries after the French Revolution, Mélenchon’s anti-capitalist supporters first targeted Paris’s symbolic Place de la Bastille, marching against a leader they, too, consider a king.

In a wide-ranging speech, the fiery Mélenchon, 66, attacked Macron and the “liberal chaos” he believes the president’s Anglo-American-style economic reforms will bring. But most of all, Mélenchon vowed “resistance” to the new French president and railed against the process by which Macron passed his reforms, nominally devised to lower an intractably high unemployment rate and stimulate economic growth.

“We were not able to discuss a single line, a single page of the ordinances!” he proclaimed, before an applauding crowd of thousands. In reality, the Élysée Palace engaged in months of dialogue with prominent French union leaders, several of whom, in exchange for certain concessions, have since refused to protest the new laws.

Saturday’s march came in direct response to Macron officially signing five major labor decrees into law Friday, a move the young president immediately heralded as an “unprecedented reform of the labor market” and a moment that broke with decades of French regulatory tradition.

In a country still home to one of the world’s most highly regulated labor markets, these new reforms are likely to create a long-unimaginable shift in favor of corporations and small businesses alike.

Mélenchon, in many ways the heir to France’s long-dormant Communist political tradition, is not amused.

“Capitalism is the first enemy of democracy,” he declared. In his eyes, there is much to dislike in Macron’s unapologetic embrace of capitalism.

Under Macron’s new scheme, French companies across the board now stand to benefit from the laws’ stated aim of reducing the centralized power of collective bargaining.

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