French Demonstrations Turn Violent 🔥

 Stephane Mahe / Reuters

Stephane Mahe / Reuters

A major U-turn

French President Macron suspended his plan to increase taxes on gasoline after weeks of anti-fuel-tax demonstrations turned into violent riots in Paris this weekend. The green tax was a key piece of Macron’s economic overhaul plan and was aimed at reducing pollution.

"Yellow Vests" 101

The gilet jaunes, or “Yellow Vests”, were originally individuals from rural France where cars are the primary mode of transportation. They started protesting Macron’s diesel tax on the basis that it reduces their purchasing power. French motorists are required to carry yellow vests in their vehicles for roadside safety. They have now come to represent the movement.


PROTESTS ARE SIGNIFICANT:

Quartz: French history has never seen a protest like the yellow vest movement

LA Times: The ‘yellow vest’ protests in France aren’t limited to Paris — they’re tapping into deep anxiety nationwide

Articles arguing that the protests are significant view the movement as a defining moment in French history. They compare the uprising to that of the working class during the French Revolution. These articles view the push for social change as a logical extension of democracy.

PROTESTS ARE UNWARRANTED:

The Times UK: French protests: Macron’s scalp will not satisfy violent extremists

The Guardian (opinion): Never before have I seen blind anger like this on the streets of Paris

Articles arguing that the protests are unwarranted focus on the movement’s disorganization - emphasizing that the Yellow Vests are not united in their demands. They criticize the protesters as inevitably undermining their cause by opposing negotiation talks. Articles from this side also note the rowdiness of the riots.


What does this mean for Macron?

In a CNN interview last year, President Macron stated that he “believe[s] in democracy. And democracy is not in the street.” As protests intensify, Macron’s approval rating has reached a new low of 23%. Macron’s concession in freezing the gas tax is not only a blow to his campaign agenda but also represents that the streets do, in fact, invoke change.

Kanye be like: I did it first

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