Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Protest works

For the past month France has been brought to a standstill, as members of the yellow vest movement have protested against inequality, the cost of living, and president Emmanuel Macron. And today, a week after serious riots in Paris, Macron has made concessions:

Emmanuel Macron has bowed to pressure from the street to announce a catalogue of emergency measures aimed at pacifying the gilets jaunes after weeks of civil unrest in France.

In a long-awaited address on primetime television, the president tried to talk the protesters out of further action, promising a rise in the minimum wage and tax concessions.

In a mea culpa, Macron said he had heard and understood protesters’ anger and indignation, which he said was “deep and in many ways legitimate”.


To help struggling workers, he said the government had been ordered to introduce “concrete measures” from 1 January, including increasing the minimum wage by €100 (£90) a month. Overtime would be exempt from tax and social charges, and a planned tax on pensions under €2,000 a month would be cancelled. All employers “who can” were asked to give workers a tax-free bonus at the end of the year.

The question is whether he has offered enough. Macron pointedly refused to roll back his tax cuts for the rich, and that was one of the key issues people have been protesting over. But it will also be interesting to see if the yellow vests listen. They're a leaderless movement, which means both no leaders to sell them out, and no-one who can negotiate on their behalf, so it really is going to be a matter of whether the people protesting decide to keep going in the hope of getting something better. Or just taking revenge on the political system which ignores them.