As Paris Burns, Macron Seeks Way Out of Deep Chaos in the ‘Greening’ of France
- Should President Macron’s support in Parliament collapse, he will resign, the people already hold in in very low regard.
Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron, 40 anni, ordered his PM to hold talks with political leaders and demonstrators, as he seeks a way out of nationwide protests after rioters turned central Paris into a war zone.
Riot police on Saturday were overwhelmed as protesters ran amok in Paris’s wealthiest neighborhoods, torching dozens of cars, looting boutiques and smashing up luxury private homes and cafes in the worst disturbances the capital has seen since Y 1968.
I was in Paris in 1968 on business and had a front row seat for some of the rioting across from the Old Opera House it was frightening.
The unrest began as a backlash Vs fuel tax hikes, a gal of gas is over $7.00 now, but has spread. It poses the most formidable challenge yet to Macron’s Presidency, with the escalating violence and depth of public anger against his economic reforms catching the young leader off-guard and battling to regain control.
After a meeting with members of his government Sunday, the French President said in a statement that he had asked his interior minister to prepare security forces for future protests and his Prime Pinister to hold talks with political party leaders and representatives of the protesters.
President Macron did not speak to the nation Sunday despite calls for him to offer immediate concessions to demonstrators, and said the idea of imposing a state of emergency had not been discussed.
Arriving back from the G-20 Summit in Argentina, President Macron rushed to the Arc de Triomphe where protesters had scrawled “Macron Resign” and “The yellow vests will triumph.”
The “yellow vest” rebellion erupted out of nowhere on 17 November with protesters blocking roads across France and impeding access to some shopping malls, fuel depots and airports.
Violent groups from the far right and far left as well as youths from the suburbs infiltrated Saturday’s protests, the authorities said.
Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux had indicated The Macron Administration was considering imposing a ‘state of emergency’.
The President said on the Greening of France, “We won’t change course. We are certain of that,” he told Europe 1 radio.
As he spoke, workmen in the upper-crust district of central Paris set about cleaning the defaced Arc, removing charred hulks of cars and replacing the shattered windows of banks, restaurants and glitzy boutiques.
While the protests were initially against President Macron’s fuel tax hikes – necessary he says to combat climate change – they have also mined a vein of deep dissatisfaction felt towards his liberal reforms, which many voters feel favor the wealthy and big business.
Police said they had arrested more than 400 people in Paris Saturday and that 133 were injured. Some 10,000 tear gas canisters and stun grenades were fired as well as water canon as security forces fought for control.
President Macron’s plight illustrates the really Big Q: How do political leaders’ introduce policies that will do long-term good for the environment without inflicting extra costs on voters that may damage their chances of re-election?
His unyielding response has exposed him to charges of being out of touch with Frenchmen outside of France’s big cities who worry about the squeeze on household budgets and job security.
The protests have driven President Macron’s popularity to record lows and has him facing a lose-lose situation.
Either President Macron caves in to the pressure and is derided by opponents as weak, or he puts down the dissent.
In the 2nd scenario, Macron will still come out loser, because what everyone will remember is that he wrestled with the popular classes. He would be victorious, but at the cost of having crushed the French people.
The people in the streets of Paris are jeering and called on President Macron to resign.
So too did Jean-Luc Melenchon, head of hard-left party La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who both demanded the government unwind its fuel tax hikes. They called for Parliament to be dissolved and snap elections held.
President Macron has 3.5 years left of his 5-year mandate and a strong majority in Parliament, albeit with signs of smoldering unease on the backbenches over his response to the protests.
TV footage showed the interior of the Arc ransacked, a statue of Marianne, symbol of the French republic, smashed, and graffiti scrawled on the exterior ranging from anti-capitalist slogans to social demands and calls for Macron’s resignation.
On nearby streets, some Parisians worried of a repeat of the violence next weekend. The yellow vests have already called another demonstration in Paris.
The violence is increasing at an exponential rate, the state is losing control, it is scary. People may soon see the Army in the streets of Paris again.