Demonstrations in France: French People Don’t Want to Pay for ‘Making the Planet Bigger Again’

Photo: TimesLIVE

Demonstrations against fuel prices in several French cities do not cease. About 300,000 members of ‘Yellow Vests’ movement – so named because the protesters are wearing the high-viz vests that French drivers are obliged to carry in case of emergencies – have begun the protests on November 17. It is noted that police used even tear gas in some cities to break up the gathering of protestors. In total, the number of victims has reached to 500. Around 300 people were arrested, 157 of whom were detained.

The reason for the rallies is the fact that for the year in France, the price of petrol has increased by 10-15%, and the price of the most popular diesel fuel in the country rose 24%, which is an unprecedented indicator for the last 10 years.  Now the cost of a litre of fuel often exceeds 1.5 euros. 

It should be noted that one of the reasons for the increase in fuel prices is the introduction of an environmental tax on greenhouse gas emissions announced by French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration, the aim of which is to encourage citizens to use electric, hybrid vehicles.

But these measures are not new. They have been implemented in France since 2015, when the Paris Agreement on Climate has been signed.  However, the wave of complaints of French drivers rose during Macron’s presidency when under the slogan “Let’s make our planet bigger again “, the latter assumed responsibility for finding clear solutions to climate and environmental issues, after US President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

And despite the fact that more than half of the French population expresses its dissatisfaction on this occasion, the French government is not going to make concessions. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said that despite acknowledging the “suffering and anger” of the citizens, the government would stay the course. According to him, workers would ultimately have less of a tax burden by the end of Macron’s mandate, which raised a new wave of anger among demonstrators.

According to sociological polls, public dissatisfaction is high, but the joyful fact for Macron is that demonstrators categorically refused to join the opposition or trade unions, claiming that their movement is apolitical. So it is not clear yet whether they will struggle until the end or the movement will wane.

It should be noted that it is not the first time that the French population is protesting against Macron’s reforms. He has faced the first challenge in strikes and protests in his first year as French president.

Under the slogans “Macron is an enemy “, “The President of France is the President of the rich” , tens of thousands of people had taken to the streets of Paris in protest at President Emmanuel Macron’s overhaul of France’s labour law. And at the beginning of this year, hundreds of students and applicants from the University of Paris protested against the reforms of the education system.