The yellow vests movement in France still continues after eleven weeks of nationwide protests, despite some retreats from the administration of Emmanuel Macron and the French president seems to have faced an impasse in the face of the protesters.
With the onset of the Christmas holidays, it was expected that protests by the yellow vests would subside in France and that fewer people would participate in the protest rallies, but on the first Friday after Christmas, there were thousands of people on the streets of Paris and some other major cities in France. This showed that the plans and the retreats announced by Macron after the demonstrations and revolts by yellow vests had not produced the expected results.
Retreat from raising fuel taxes and a plan to increase minimum wages, especially for pensioners, were among ideas the French president thought would enable him to respond to part of the demands of the protesters and manage the crisis in some way; but this expectation was not realized because the continuation of the demonstrations and unrests were simply not limited to the fuel taxes. The yellow vests now demand the resignation of Macron and stepping down from power.
This suggests that, in fact, these protests and unrests have become a motivation for the opponents of Macron’s policies over the past year and a half, and they have joined the yellow vests. Of course, this group would not participate in violent demonstrations but voice support for the demands of the protesters.
According to latest polls, about 75 per cent of the French people are unhappy with Macron’s policies, and this has led the French president to seek other ways to manage the crisis and revolts by yellow vests, namely direct dialogue with the French people. This is a plan which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday. The French president, according to the plan, will ask the people to express their views about few questions to be raised by Macron. He also plans to improve his status before the French community by travelling to all parts of France.
Macron is accused of being the president of the wealthy, and now he wants to travel to the various parts of France to show that he belongs to all the people. Meanwhile, what is happening in France and the problems that exist in the social and economic sectors of the country are not of a nature Macron could resolve by writing few letters or through direct dialogue with the people. Because today there is an immense inequality and deep economic gap within French society, which will need time to be removed.
In a plan for direct talks with the people, Macron said that he would not budge on the abolition of taxes for the wealthy and that many rich people would still be subject to a series of high tax exemptions.
Therefore, the measures the French president wants to take to end the French protests are more tactical and aimed to manage the crisis rather than solve it. It should be noted that a deep economic gap has been created between the French people and their purchasing power has fallen far short of the past 10 years; the minimum wage that French people receive, especially in small towns, is not enough to meet their basic needs. It does not seem, therefore, that Macron could easily manage this crisis with the new initiatives that have been taken.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament elections in May will play a decisive role and will show to what extent has Macron been able to win the support of the French people. This is while the French far right and left currents are trying to take the most advantage of the elections and attract the yellow vests and their supporters. Therefore, a political lineup will be formed in France concurrent with the European Parliament polls. The lineup and the elections will show how much Macron has been able to advance its policies to the satisfaction of the French people.