France’s Yellow Vests still in the streets 6 months after movement begun

Photo by Rafael Yaghobzadeh/Associated Press: Yellow Shirts and tear gas on the streets of Paris on 27 April

Contributed by Jim Hayes

France’s Yellow Vests movement continued its weekly presence on the streets on 27April.

Tear gas was used by the police, who were trying to stop the marchers from reaching the centre of Paris. There was confrontation at Strasbourg near the border with Germany, after the marchers tried to to get to the European Union headquarters. There was confrontastion in Lyon as well.

The few concessions offered by Manuel Macron have not been enough to turn the tide.

Big numbers are still involved, in what has become a broad front, across the political spectrum. The French union movement, the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), has come to play a significant role, as has the France Unbowed (La France insoumise) movement, led by Luc Melenchon. Although there is some involvement from Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (Rassamblement National), its influence has waned seriously.

This is not the sum of it. A broad range of community and political organisations have become involved.

But at heart the Yellow Vests remain a movement of the grass roots. What it seems to be achieving, is to build a greater political consensus and unity around what amounts a call for people power. The movement wants some fundamental changes. This is why Macron’s little gestures are so ineffective.

The movement began when country people began a protest against high fuel prices, and it quickly morphed into a call for a fairer society and participatory democracy.

Marcon’s latest offer is a tax cut package for lower income earners. But major cuts to social services are still on. His controversial cut to taxes for the rich remains, as do plans to liberalise (read neoliberalise) the economy, while he publicly recognises the “just demands” of the Yellow Vests, and then turns and routinely uses hard fisted methods to try and stop the protests.

He is just tinkering around the edges

Video from FRANCE 24

This is a government looking like it’s on the run and getting nowhere in a hurry.

According to the Interior Ministry, 23,600 mobilised by 7 pm on Saturday local time. Others put it up to 60,000. Although it was fewer than usual, he number was also conditioned by preparations for a particularly big turnout on the May Day march on the 1 May.

The rallies are still big and determined

Video from Ruptly

The Yellow Vests show little sign of fading out.

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