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French protests ahead despite Macron concession

06 December 2018
French protests ahead despite Macron concession

The "gilets jaunes" movement began as a protest against a rise in duties on diesel, which is widely used by French motorists and has always been less heavily taxed than other types of fuel.

French President Emmanuel Macron appealed to rival political leaders as well as trade unions to help tamp down the anti-government anger that on Saturday led to some of the worst rioting in central Paris in decades, according to government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.

Mass protests have repeatedly forced French presidents into U-turns, something Macron had vowed to avoid in his quest to "transform" the French economy and state.

Four people have died since the unrest began and the resulting violence and vandalism have been widely condemned.

The rising cost of gasoline and diesel fuel sparked protests that have since evolved into broader demonstrations against Macron's government, exposing tensions between the metropolitan elite and rural poor.

Yet many others said they had no intention of stopping the demonstrations.

A new poll by the Ifop-Fiducial survey group on Tuesday showed the former investment banker's approval rating at a record low of 23 percent.

On Tuesday, representatives of the Yellow Vest movement said the temporary freeze on the tax proposed by the French prime minister was simply not enough.

Mr Macron has been accused of "not listening" and being out of touch with the public.

On Wednesday, De Rugy said a period of a year was chose to assuage fears that the unpopular increase would be merely postponed, only to be reintroduced once the protests stop.

Since then, the "yellow vest" protests have developed into a movement against Macron.

"No tax is worth putting the nation's unity in danger", Philippe said, just three weeks after insisting that the government wouldn't change course in its determination to wean French consumers off polluting fossil fuels. He said the wealth tax could be reassessed in the autumn of 2019.

Numerous demonstrations were over a new university application system.

But the policy, along with comments deemed insensitive to the working class, has prompted numerous ex-banker's critics to label him a "president of the rich".

Nine government ministers were sent out to the television and radio studios Wednesday to explain the administration's stance. People want "the baguette", not crumbs, and will take to the streets again on Saturday, he said.

Last weekend, more than 130 people were injured and 412 arrested in the French capital.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has urged "responsible" protesters not to descend on Paris but has nonetheless called in police reinforcements, bracing for more violence.

Two truck driver unions called an indefinite sympathy strike from Sunday night, and students are blocking dozens of schools nationwide to denounce tougher university entrance requirements.

"Eventually he backed down, which is going to divide the (yellow vest) movement, but it also risks dividing his own political base", said Jerome Sainte-Marie of the PollingVox survey group.

Fuel shortages due to blockades remain a problem in areas of Brittany, Normandy and southeast regions of France.