Clashes broke out throughout France on Saturday, as an estimated 84,000 “yellow vests” demonstrators took to the streets in a 10th consecutive weekend of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s government.
The fuel tax hikes were subsequently scrapped, yet the movement has morphed into a broader protest against Macron’s government and general anger over taxes and the cost of living. “How can we continue to live with so little?” said Bernard Grignan, a 65-year old retired manager who took part in the Paris demonstrations.
In Paris, some demonstrators carried mock coffins symbolizing the 10 people who have died during the protests, mainly due to accidents when demonstrators blocked roads.
December’s demonstrations saw some of the worst violence in decades in Paris, as rioters burned cars and vandalized shops. Despite a relative decline in crowd trouble in Paris, however, disturbances have flared up in other cities.
According to official figures, the biggest demonstration on Saturday occurred in the southern city of Toulouse, where around 10,000 people took part. The demonstration turned violent as evening fell, as protesters vandalized a bank and other shops. Eight people were injured and there were 23 arrests.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen - soundly beaten by Macron in the 2017 presidential election - is looking to take advantage of the “yellow vests” crisis and win ground in the May 2019 European parliament elections.
On Saturday, Le Pen reiterated her support for the protesters at a meeting near Marseille, at which she described the movement as a “legitimate” and “courageous” revolt.
Le Pen the Winner
Marine Le Pen is the winner in this mess. Last week she announced leaving the Euro was no longer a top priority.
That immediately makes Le Pen her more likable to disgruntled persons on the Left and Right.
I expect the her party, the National Rally (formerly National Front), to capitalize on Macron's unpopularity in the May European Parliament elections.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock