French Protests in High Visibility
On November 17, 2018, 300,000 French civilians all across France flooded to the streets - not to celebrate an important day or moment, but to protest the government. Protests were targeted specifically towards President Emmanuel Macron’s new taxation policy. November 17 was “Act I” of the “Yellow Vest” movement. According to CNBC, since then, nine “acts” have been demonstrated throughout the entirety of France.
The Yellow Vest movement was created after Emmanuel Macron changed taxation policy since his entrance into the Presidency in 2017. Macron is a self-proclaimed “centralist,” meaning he stands in the middle between liberal and conservative ideas. Ironically, the Yellow Vest movement has proven that the only thing he is in the middle of, is anger, from both liberals and conservatives.
The first of the two main taxation changes was the abolishment of the, “solidarity tax on wealth” or Impôt de solidarité sur la fortune. This tax originally taxed the rich, but has now been removed, giving the extremely wealthy an extremely large tax break. This upset many middle-class French citizens, as the money lost from the abolishment of the tax, had to be made up. The second act was a gasoline tax, which put a 63.9% tax on gasoline prices. Once again, many middle-class workers were upset, as this act unfairly taxed those who drive many hours to get to their low paying jobs.
As many people felt cheated by this new presidency, the Yellow Vest movement was formed to directly combat Macron. The name comes from the yellow, high-visibility jackets French citizens are required to have to in their cars.
Originally, the protests started off as non-violent, peaceful demonstrations. The first act, including citizens blocking off highways, to represent the motives of the Yellow Vest movement. However, as each act continued, citizens and the police tensions increased. Soon, the protests were filled with citizens burning cars and smashing windows while the police combated them with tear gas and semiautomatic weapons.
According to CNN, “more than 4,000 have been arrested. About 3,000 civilians and 1,000 police officers have been injured.” Sadly, ten civilians have also died.
As tensions increase, it is clear that both sides refuse to lose. The people of France have shown that they will not back down to Macron’s taxation, and will do whatever it takes to force him to resign. Meanwhile, Macron refuses to lower the tax and steadily increases forces against his citizens. Kyle Kulinski, a journalist with a news show on YouTube, said in a recent video, “In the United States, the trend has shown that the people are usually afraid of the government. In France, history has shown, that the government is usually afraid of the people.”