Early May saw a lull in the weekly protests by France’s so called Yellow Vest movement which was not surprising after the huge turnout for the Midweek May Day protests on May 1, the traditional workers holiday in many nations.
France’s Yellow Vest demonstrations drew a lower turnout and drifted away from Paris to smaller cities on Saturday, suggesting the movement is weakening as it hits the six-month mark.
Police estimated 18,600 people took to the streets around France, including 1,200 in the capital, on the movement’s 26th Saturday of protests, AFP reported, citing the interior ministry. Last Saturday, police counted fewer than 19,000 protesters nationwide, already the lowest turnout since November.
The Yellow Vests, a decentralized movement that began in opposition to higher gasoline taxes, has expanded its list of grievances to include demands for a higher minimum wage and increased pensions. President Emmanuel Macron last month promised tax cuts for the middle class in an effort to calm the protesters. Still, a poll on Tuesday found that 47% of the French support the Yellow Vests, up 3 points from 10 days earlier.
Turnout at the protests, and the level of violence, has waxed and waned depending on the weekend. Some Saturdays have led to shocking footage of street battles between protesters and police, the ransacking of the Arc de Triomphe and looting of shops and restaurants. On others, the events unfold with little violence. Masked anarchist protesters known as Black Blocs have joined in the demonstrations.
<p>In Paris on May 11, hundreds assembled midday south of the Seine river, in the student-packed neighborhood surrounding the Jussieu university campus. While demonstrations in the French capital remained orderly, Lyon and Nantes were rowdier at times as some protesters threw objects at police officers.
With the protests continuing, although the numbers involved have diminished, it shows the anger of the French people at successive governments which want to focus on the problems of Africa and South East Asia, and the push to integrate 27 EU member states into a single political entity, while ignoring the problems faced by middle and working class people in France due to high unemployment, high taxes and rising living costs, Macron faces increasing political pressure. And with elections to the toothless but symbolic European Parliament only a few days away it looks as if his biggest political test to date will turn into a catastrophe for his globalist government. The Republic En Marche (Republic on the Move Party) currently trails the nationalistic, Eurosceptic, Rassemblement National (National Rally) party led by Marine Le Pen in the European Union parliamentary elections on May 26, according to a Harris Interactive poll published Saturday.
Defeat for Macron will bring renewed calls for him to resign and call an election, and should he choose to hold on to power in those circumstances, in all likelyhood it will reinvigorate the protest movement.