The yellow vest or “gilet
The background is relevant. As part of his environmental policy strategy, Macron announced a green tax on fuel last month to come into effect on Jan. 1. The move set off nearly a month of protests around France. The Interior Ministry estimates 136,000 protesters turned out across the country over the past weekend, in addition to 280,000 in previous weeks. The protests started in the French provinces but spread to Paris, where demonstrations turned into riots and scenes of violent civil unrest occurred on the Avenue des Champs Elysees.
The yellow vest protesters were people from rural areas who have to drive long distances as part of their daily life. They said they couldn’t afford the hike in fuel prices. Protests appeared in pockets around France to denounce Macron’s green tax, and then quickly grew into a larger movement that includes members of the working and middle classes, who are expressing their frustration about slipping standards of living. They say their incomes are too high to qualify for social welfare benefits but too low to make ends meet. The movement has no official leadership and was organized initially through social media groups.
There is no doubt that the yellow vest movement is not weakening. It will
Last weekend showed that the level of violence in France had gone up several degrees. The number of arrests exceeded 1,300. Investigations are being carried out in order to understand and pinpoint the movement in terms of its leadership. People have been injured by the police. The symbol of law enforcement used by the gendarmerie in Paris will remain. Importantly, the rioting evoked comparisons with the violence of 1968.
In 1968, a battle between 6,000 student demonstrators and 1,500 gendarmes escalated within days to a civil dispute featuring 10 million French workers going on strike and bringing the economy to a virtual halt. The De Gaulle government was forced to hold new elections. Importantly, May 1968 is an important marker in modern French history between the balance of what may be called the “liberation and anarchy” and feeds into today’s discourse over the significance of the yellow vest movement.
Today’s riots are different in that, in modern society, everything is filmed, including images showing high school students in Mantes-la-Jolie being rounded up by the police. The images tell an interesting story of where France is going as part of Europe.
Macron’s government has a
Overall, France has entered a crisis period. This crisis will have social, political and institutional dimensions. But it may be more about the adverse effects on the EU