France Delays New Fuel Tax After Violent Protests

Adjust Comment Print

A day after Edouard Philippe announced a six-month suspension of the fuel tax hikes that kicked off the "yellow vest" protest, the movement showed no sign of slowing down on Wednesday.

The anti-government protests started last month over the fuel tax but have grown to encompass a broad range of grievances and anger at Macron.

Protests continued Wednesday, with petrol depots, service stations, and shopping centres among the targets of the "yellow vests" or "gilets jaunes" - so-called for the high-visibility road safety jackets they wear.

Turnout for the protests had fallen from about 280,000 three weeks ago to 136,000 last Saturday, with some of the violence, auto burning, spray painting and damage to Paris' historic monuments alienating supporters.

Four people have died since protests began in November.

Paris riots continue despite fuel tax delay
Macron Halts Fuel Tax Hike In Bid To Curb Riots

The French government has scrapped plans to rise fuel taxes in a move to stop yellow vest protests.

However, his policies have angered many French citizens who say he does not care about most of the people.

One unifying complaint among the leaderless protesters, who come from across the political and social spectrum, has been the anger at Macron and the perceived elitism of France's aloof ruling class.

Macron, whose approval ratings have plummeted to just 23 percent, is yet to comment publicly since returning to France from a G20 summit in Argentina on Sunday morning.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Tuesday rollbacks on fuel taxes and electricity price increases in a rare televised address after France was rocked by intense street clashes and vandalism in Paris over the weekend.

More news: David Attenborough's Dire Climate Warning: ‘Our Greatest Threat In Thousands Of Years'

Minister Francois de Rugy told BFM TV that the government had chose to ditch the plans in their entirety in order to assuage fears that the increase would be be reintroduced as soon as the protests came to an end.

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". Benjamin Cauchy, a major figure in the movement said, "We will not be put to sleep by a moratorium, the issues are much wider than that", and added, "the French do not want crumbs, they want the breadstick in full". That, observers say, makes it more hard for government officials to answer.

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

The yellow vest protesters have called him "president of the rich".

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

More news: Fortnite's new creative mode lets you build on your own private island

"The Yellow Vests wish to act on Saturday", he replied.

"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".

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

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

More news: See where Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton and the royals will celebrate Christmas

Comments