It's rare for politicians to deliver on campaign promises. But French president Emmanuel Macron did. He promised a revolution, and got one. Unfortunately for Macron, the revolt is against his own policies.
The “Yellow Vests” protests now challenging President Emmanuel Macron have exposed a widening hole in the center of French politics—created by Macron himself.
It was Macron whose election in May 2017 all but obliterated the two establishment parties that had run France for 30 years. His own political movement had been launched less than a year before and his closest opponent for the presidency was from the far-right. By positioning himself as a reformer, Macron, 40, had hoped to establish a centrist consensus.
“The ‘gilets jaunes’ movement will probably peter out, but not the anger, which is likely to go on and take new forms maybe more dangerous for Macron,” said Jim Shields, a professor of French politics at Warwick University in the U.K. “It’s hard to see how he can complete controversial reforms like pensions and unemployment insurance without yet more blood on the pavement.”
A protest Saturday in Paris exploded into violence that left over 100 injured and more than 400 arrested, as well as burned cars and looted stores in the heart of the capital. Named after the colored vests motorists must keep in their cars for emergencies, the campaign began as a protest against higher gasoline taxes to reduce emissions. It’s now expanded to other demands and has the support of three-quarters of the French public, polls show.
“We are talking about cost of living and Macron is talking ecology,” said Joffre Denis, a 33-year old fireman who had come 125 miles from his home in the north of France to Paris, wearing a yellow vest at Saturday’s protest. “His solution for people who can’t afford food by the end of the month is to buy solar panels and electric cars.”
Revolt Against Taxes
The Yellow Vest movement started as a protest against a new diesel tax by Macron, but has now spread to other ideas and taxes in general. This is why:
And what is France delivering for that tax rate? Obviously, not enough.
Macron's "En Marche" (Forward, Onward, On the Move) party promised reform. Macron delivered higher taxes. At least 75% of the French voters have turned on him.
They will turn away from the center to the far right or far left.
Most Yellow Vests supporters will split their votes between Le Pen’s National Rally and Jean-Luc Melenchon’s far-left France Unbowed, Boulouque said. Together, they received 41 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential voting in 2017.
Emergency Meeting Called
French President Emmanuel Macron has held an urgent security meeting following a day of riots by thousands of anti-government protesters.
Ministers said that while no options had been ruled out, imposing a state of emergency had not been discussed during the talks - despite earlier reports.
France's interior ministry says about 136,000 people took part in the protests nationwide.
The protest movement has no identifiable leadership and has gained momentum via social media, encompassing a whole range of participants from the anarchist far left to the nationalist far right, and plenty of moderates in between.
Nearly 300,000 people took part in the first country-wide demonstration, on 17 November.
The "gilets jaunes" protesters, so-called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law.
Requiring people to own a symbol of protests, what a hoot.
I am certain readers would like a fitting musical tribute to these events. I can oblige.
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
Mike "Mish" Shedlock