‘Yellow Vests’ Warn Macron of Greater Violence in Paris
French authorities see another wave of “great violence” and rioting being unleashed in Paris this weekend by a hard core of ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters, as senior ministers sought to defuse public anger with conciliatory languages on taxes.
President Emmanuel Macron. 40 anni, has struggled to quell the anger that led to the worst street unrest in central Paris since Y 1968.
Rioters torched cars, vandalized cafes, looted shops and sprayed anti-Macron graffiti across some of Paris’s most affluent districts, even defacing the Arc de Triomphe. Scores of people were hurt and hundreds arrested in battles with police.
An official in Mr. Macron’s office said intelligence suggested that some protesters would come to the capital this Saturday “to vandalize and to kill.”
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said 65,000 security personnel would be deployed across the country on that day to keep the peace.
In a bid to defuse the 3-week crisis, PM Philippe had told parliament late Wednesday that he was scrapping the fuel-tax increases planned for Y 2019, having announced a six-month suspension the day before.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told a conference he was prepared to bring forward tax cutting plans and that he wanted workers’ bonuses to be tax-free.
The threat of more violence poses a security nightmare for the authorities, who make a distinction between peaceful ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters and violent groups, anarchists and looters from the deprived suburbs who they say have infiltrated the movement.
Across social media, the Yellow Vests are calling for an “Act IV,” a reference to what would be a fourth weekend of disorder.
“France is fed up!! We will be there in bigger numbers, stronger, standing up for French people. Meet in Paris on Dec. 8,” read a group’s banner.
The protests, named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to keep in their cars, erupted in November over the squeeze on household budgets caused by fuel taxes.
Demonstrations swiftly grew into a broad, sometimes-violent rebellion against Mr. Macron, with no formal leader.
Their demands are diverse and include lower taxes, higher salaries and Macron’s resignation.
The fuel-tax volte-face was the first major U-turn of Mr. Macron’s 18-month Presidency.
The unrest has exposed the deep-seated resentment among non-city dwellers that Macron is out-of-touch with the hard-pressed middle class and blue-collar laborers. They see the former investment banker as closer to big business.
Trouble is also brewing elsewhere for Mr. Macron.
Teenage students on Thursday blocked access to more than 200 high schools across the country, burning garbage bins and setting alight a car in the western city of Nantes.
French farmers who have long complained that retailers are squeezing their margins and are furious over a delay to the planned rise in minimum food prices, and truckers are threatening to strike from Sunday.
France is not being spared from the wave of populism that has swept across Europe, but it is not manifesting itself at the ballot box, but in the streets.