The Strategist

Yellow vests riots in France: What they really want?

11/19/2018 - 14:14

On the weekend, France was disturbed by violent protests in 2 thousand settlements throughout the country, in which about 288 thousand people participated. Citizens are protesting against raising taxes on fuel and other unpopular government measures. The result of the Saturday is one lost and 408 injured, including 14 seriously wounded. On Sunday, tensions subsided somewhat, but many roads were still blocked by the protesters.

On Saturday morning, thousands of demonstrators gathered in the center of Paris, at Place de la Concorde and on the Champs Elysees. The capital of France feared riots, in which demonstrators and members of extremist groups who joined them willingly indulge. Especially since the participants had neither a manifestation plan, nor an agreed time for it.

The police have not been intervening for a long time, limiting themselves with attempts to divide the crowd into groups that are easier to control. In the afternoon, the mob broke through the perimeter and got into the most protected Parisian street Faubourg Saint-Honoré to the gates of the presidential palace. The police could only watch the mob screaming "Macron, resign!"

408 people have already been injured in clashes across the country, 14 of them were seriously injured.

Several times, the police had to disperse the protesters with tear gas, as was the case, for example, at the Mont Blanc tunnel, which the protesters tried to block. But more often, the security service had to interfere in clashes between demonstrators and fellow citizens who had the misfortune to drive when an angry outraged mind boils. To date, only one victim of the demonstrations died that way. In the department of Savoie, an elderly woman was hit by a car that was trying to drive around the mob. The woman driver was in a hurry to take her daughter to the doctor, panicked and pressed the gas. She has been detained, but it’s not so easy to answer the question of who is to blame for what happened.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner summed up the first results of the riots yesterday. At least 287,710 people took part in protests in 2,000 localities across the country. The media report that about a dozen policemen and gendarmes were injured in the clashes, 117 people were detained, 75 of them were jailed.

The people are protesting against deterioration of life in the country. These are not lumpens, but a spectrum of people — workers, employees, village officials, small entrepreneurs, and also pensioners. The last straw was the increase in fuel taxes, as a result of which the price of gasoline from January 1 will increase by 2.9 eurocents, on diesel fuel - by 6.5 eurocents per liter. During 2018, these prices have been constantly growing; consequently, gasoline went up in total by 15%, and diesel - by 23%.

The government is urging the protesters to think about importance of environmental measures, but they do not want to hear it.
There was one more reason that caused the explosion of discontent: diesel-powered cars and cars over 15 years of age will be restricted in movement or prohibited at all. People whose professional life for many years has been associated with the car, found that they need to buy new cars and pay more for their refueling.

Their dissatisfaction is expressed in numbers of falling popularity of President and Prime Minister. A survey conducted by the Ifop Institute for the Journal de Dimanche showed that only 25% of respondents approve the actions of Emmanuel Macron and 34% support the head of government Edouard Philippe.

This dissatisfaction has been accumulating for a long time, and in early October in France the movement of “yellow vests” (clothing that French drivers wear) was born. This movement has become a classic "cyber-plot", planned and established in social networks. Not a single trade union, not a single political party, not a single politician participated in its organization and did not attempt to lead the incipient disruption. In this regard, it is very difficult to identify, control and extinguish it, because even its active participants find it difficult to say what they are trying to do, apart from asking for “something better”.


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