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France: Act V

Despite the French President Emmanuel Macron giving in to most of the demands of the self-styled ‘yellow vest’ (gilets jaunes) movement another weekend of protests is expected to rock France this weekend following a month of protests, some of them violent, in Paris and numerous town and cities across the country.

Macron has promised not to raise fuel duty and pledged to raise the minimum wage resulting in budget giveaways worth around £9 billion in response to the protest which have rocked his neo-liberal/’centrist’ government. However, he has been warned by political rivals that those concessions alone will not stop more protests.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, of the far-left France Unbowed party said: ” Macron thought he could hand out some cash to calm the citizens’ insurrection…I believe that Act Five will play out.”

National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, formerly leader of the national populist National  Front, also predicted more disturbances.

Despite infantile anarchist ‘Antifa’ aggression towards Royalist activists attending the protests in Paris last weekend, activists from the far-left and the radical right have largely worked together bolstering the many thousands of ordinary people supporting the protests, some of which have resulted in clashes with the police, whilst maintaining the support of the wider public.

Over eight thousand police were deployed last weekend in Paris alone and a similar number is expected to be on duty this weekend as the government seeks to regain control of the capital.

And more than 1,150 people were arrested in Paris last Saturday, 620 of whom were detained after plain clothes police snatch squads infiltrated the crowd.

Many of the protesters were middle aged people from the provinces angry about burgeoning tax rises, particularly on fuel, and the rising cost of living in the countryside.

Last weekend, the total number of protesters was estimated at 125,000 nationwide, with 89,000 police deployed in response, far smaller than the 280,000 involved in the first demonstrations on November 17th. And numbers are expected to fall further this weekend as the Christmas and New Year break approaches. However, protests have spread across the border to Belgium, where ‘yellow vest’ activists attempted to storm the EU parliament building last Saturday afternoon resulting in violent scenes with the riot police guarding the building.

Following another Islamist terror attack against a Christmas market in Strasbourg during the week which has left four people dead, France is deep in crisis and Macron will struggle to contain the long simmering discontent, not just against his government, but the way the country is governed as a whole.

Paris Yellow Jacket Protest 2018
Paris Yellow Jacket Protest 2018