France’s Yellow vests mark their first anniversary

Photo from Getty Images: French president Emanuel Macron has been frustrated by the Yellow Vest movement

Contributed by Jim Hayes

The weekend just passed marked the first anniversary since the Yellow Vest movement erupted on France’s streets. It has maintained its weekly presence, despite government attempts to suppress it with the use of coordinated police attacks.

Beginning over a fuel tax, it quickly developed to champion fundamental political change, leading to greater fairness, equality and bottom up participation in the political decision making of the nation.  President Emanuel Macron and his neoliberal economic reforms have been targeted .

The persistence of the Yellow Vests and refusal to be co-opted into existing political institutions has had an impact on French politics.

At first, Macron publicly stood defiantly against the Yellow Vests. When this backfired, there was a turn towards identification with them, and promises of a string of reforms and consultation. The fuel tax rise was stopped, there as a tax cut for households and some extra government spending. But many have not benefited. People felt cheated and Macron lost much of his credibility. 

Police once again moved in with tear gas and water cannon to break up the march in Paris. It elicited a response.

Yellow Vests mark their first anniversary

Video by The Straits Times

Government, police and many media sources presented what happened as merely a response to violent protesters. It is not true. According to others, it was mainly about police violence, even if some did respond.

It fits in with the government’s strategy so far. This has been to physically push the Yellow Vests off the streets. This is what is continuing to command the police action.

The Yellow Vests continue to enjoy widespread public support. A recent poll in Le Figaro showed that 68 percent of French support its demands.

Police fire tear gas at crowds on the one year anniversary of the yellow vest protests   

Video from The Sun

The failure of this strategy is that the Yellow Vests have stood up to everything thrown at them and refused to go.

At the same time as condemning the claimed violence of protesters, spokespeople for the government announced that Macron is about to offer some more concessions. This would not happen unless Macron and his government felt that they had no other choice.

At around 24 percent public approval the president is not in a strong position.

Yellow Vests occupy up iconic Galeries Lafayette in Paris

Video from Ruptly

France is also experiencing unrest among university students, striking hospital workers and a planned union movement strike against reform of the pension system.

In other words, discontent is spreading.

Within the yellow Vest movement, there is a rising debate over longer term strategy. Two matters being canvassed is whether the movement takes on the form of a political party, and whether there should be a shift form protesting, to using methods that will cause greater economic and transport system disruption, such as, targeting motorway toll booths and oil refineries.

1 Comment on "France’s Yellow vests mark their first anniversary"

  1. One of the very first manifestos that came out from the Yellow Vest, contributed anonymously and openly, stated a desire for the movement to pursue an open democratic means of discussion and decision making, true Democracy, not this corporate shamshow.
    This is not some Utopian plea, it is based on the sound logic that we have the means to conduct an international monetary system that allows us, with the use of a personal device to instantly make the choice to spend and general feel that transaction to be secure, private and accountable.
    A vote is a transaction with information attached, a 55c spend when you want to make a choice.
    The money you spend can help start an industry in research, presentation, moderation, help and assistance in producing the information we will need to frame the debate, make the decision on the Issue we’re interested in or concerned about.
    Everything but parliament has evolved with our transformational digital data technologies, This is not an accident of nature, it is a deliberate suppression of evolutionary imperatives, for profit, by control through co-operation and corruption among corporations.
    Fight them on the streets and there will be heavy causalities, fight them with the vote, no one dies, but everything changes.
    Put the comfy vest, on give a shit, engage, when you can, and vote – 55c and QR code how hard could it be?
    one BRIC at a time.

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