Economy

Yellow Vests leader: Fuel tax moratorium is crumbs, we want the baguette

Yellow Vests leader: Fuel tax moratorium is crumbs, we want the baguette”

The Elysée Palace confirmed that the fuel tax hike slated for January, which sparked the Yellow Vest movement, would be cancelled entirely on late Wednesday following a massively negative reaction to Prime Minister Édouard Philippe's proposal to simply defer the tax for another six months, franceinfo reports. Who are the "gilets jaunes" and what are they angry about?

The government is likely hoping the suspension of the fuel hikes will take some heat out of the protests, which brought an estimated 36,000 people onto the streets of France on Saturday alone.

French President Emmanuel Macron assesses the damages of the "Yellow Vests" protest earlier on the week.

French President Emmanuel Macron has scrapped a fuel tax rise amid fears of new violence, after weeks of nationwide protests and the worst rioting in Paris in decades.

"If not there will be chaos", said Christophe Chalencon, a 52-year-old blacksmith from southern France.

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.

The protests have exploded into an impossible-to-ignore statement of outrage over Macron's leadership, which had a 23 percent approval rating according to a poll released Tuesday by Ifop-Fiducial for Paris Match and Sud Radio; working conditions for paramedics; school reforms; and the perception that Macron, a former investment banker, is a president for the country's elite.

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

"The government is ready for dialogue and is showing it because this tax increase has been dropped from the 2019 budget bill".

"It's a first step, but we will not settle for crumbs", said Benjamin Cauchy, a self-proclaimed protest leader.

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

To be sure, Macron's recent efforts to combat "climate change" and reduce France's dependence on "fossil fuels" by levying a new tax on gasoline and other household fuels is not the only reason the French are protesting, but fuel tax is the "straw that broke the camel's back".

"When you leave things to fester too long, it costs more", Jean-Francois Amadieu, a sociologist at Paris 1 University, told AFP.

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

"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.

"Trump also retweeted a false claim from American conservative student activist Charlie Kirk that said: "'We want Trump' being chanted through the streets of Paris".

On Wednesday, France's largest farmers' union said it will launch anti-government protests next week after trucking unions called for a rolling strike.

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



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