Organizers had been expecting a crowd of 20,000 protesters and police were out in force in a show of strength intended to prevent a repeat of the violent clashes and vandalism that had accompanied smaller demonstrations earlier in the week.
The demonstration, which was conducted under the main slogan, “Power to the people – against capitalism and environmental destruction. Another world is possible,” had a carnival atmosphere as it wound its way through the southern Swedish city.
The organizers of the Social Forum, which opened on Thursday, claimed a crowd of 15,000.
The marchers, many carrying banners, set off from the suburb of Rosengård
at 2pm accompanied by several marching bands, in what was one of the biggest demonstrations organised in Sweden.
“We are all here because we have a common message,” Thor Rutgersson, a 25-year-old teacher told AFP.
“We want better conditions for workers, for students and more cooperation to fight poverty in Europe,” he added.
The march included delegations from all over Europe, including trade unionists and students.
“It is important that the countries from eastern Europe are here today,” said Piotr Ostrowsky of the Polish confederation of trade unions, the OPZZ.
Saturday’s march extended 7.5 kilometres and culminated in Pildammsparken where the crowds were entertained by artists such as Anne Fenney, Mikael Wiehe and Venezuelan band Madera.
On Friday, about 100 people threw rocks at police and broke windows in the city centre at the tail end of a demonstration organised by a group called Reclaim the Streets, which had attracted some 700 participants.
The fifth European Social Forum began Thursday and wraps up four days of debate, seminars, protests, happenings and informal meetings on Sunday.