French President Emmanuel Macron has folded, giving in to the popular unrest sparked by a Napoleonic arrogance where the globalist agenda was pushed to far for middle working class French citizens to stomach.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced a six-month suspension of the fuel tax hike which was the initial spark for massive unrest across France.
Philippe has stated that the suspension is aimed at stopping the violence and restoring public order.
In a televised speech on Tuesday, the French Prime Minister said that the government will suspend the fuel tax rise for six months in order to calm down the Yellow Vest protests, stating that no tax should endanger public unity and “the violence must stop.”
Philippe said the protests represented “the anger of the France that works hard and struggles to make ends meet.” Despite the concessions, he slammed rioters who assaulted police, saying they will be found and put on trial.
“This anger, you’d have to be deaf or blind not to see it or hear it,”Philippe said in an address. “The French who have donned yellow vests want taxes to drop, and work to pay. That’s also what we want,” the Prime Minister maintained.
The fuel taxes will not rise until they are debated by all stakeholders and the French people. He also promised to increase the minimum wage by 3 percent next year and direct the government to focus on improving living standards.
In a series of tweets published on Tuesday, Philippe assured the public that gas and electricity prices will not go up this winter. He also admitted that more transparency on taxes is needed. “Our taxes are the highest in Europe, our tax system is terribly complex,” he added.
Previously, Philippe’s office has said the prime minister would announce some “measures” favoring the protesters. Culture Minister Franck Riester told reporters Philippe may make “a strong conciliatory gesture in the coming days,” but did not provide any details.
Earlier on Monday, it emerged that protesters representing the movement have pulled out of the planned meeting with the Prime Minister. Two of the protest leaders, Jacline Mouraud and Benjamin Cauchy, told AFP they had received threats from hardline protesters who warned them against entering into dialogue with the government.
The “Yellow Vests” have been protesting about a controversial fuel tax since mid-November. Massive rallies hit Paris and France’s major cities, with protesters demanding to drop the tax rise.
President Emmanuel Macron repeatedly said he will not back down on taxes, but on Monday the government signaled that it is ready to make some concessions. Also that day, he held an urgent security meeting and cancelled a planned visit to Serbia to tackle the crisis.
The protests quickly spread across France, sometimes snowballing into major clashes between police and rioters. In late November, the Yellow Vest rallies in Paris quickly descended into chaos turning city streets into a ‘warzone’. Numerous cars and trash bins were torched, and windows were smashed.
The French government mulled a state of emergency on the back of Paris riots, but Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said that was “not on the table for now.”
The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the protests in Paris and how they represent more much more than a dissatisfaction with fuel price hikes, having much more to do with a general anger and disgust for Macron and his globalist government policies.
“There May Be a Bigger Problem Than Brexit or Italy: Taking Stock,” via Bloomberg…
Forget Brexit and Italian populists for a second. It’s worth paying attention to what’s going on in France.
For more than two weeks, the country has been disrupted by an unusual protest: the so-called “Gilets Jaunes” or “Yellow Vests.” France is used to labor unrest and chaos affecting transport of course, with strikes something of a national pastime.
But this time it’s different.
Some 100,000 people blocking toll roads, petrol stations and crossroads is creating major disruption to transport and retail. It’s also proving to be extremely tricky to defuse, as there’s no single protest leader to negotiate with.
For investors, the question is whether it could derail the outperformance of French equities in 2018. One thing is clear. These protests are a real threat to the country’s retailers, including Carrefour and Casino, which are already busy battling a price war and trying to fend off Amazon.com’s efforts to penetrate their home market. Big-box retailers have been hurt by the demos and blockages throughout the country, with customers denied access to some hypermarkets and supermarkets for entire days at a time. They recorded an average fall in consumer-good sales of 35 percent on Nov. 17 and of 18 percent the following Saturday, according to Nielsen data.
All this is adding to the perception of shrinking purchasing power in France, in particular among people on lower incomes. And that “doesn’t bode well” for the year-end holiday retail season, which needs a boost after the unseasonably hot weather of the previous months, according to Invest Securities. In fact, consumer confidence has been depressed since the summer, and this might be the final straw.
The impact on toll roads is harder to quantify, as demonstrators have been regularly opening them to let cars pass freely. Vinci is the largest operator in France and although motorway concessions only account for about 13% of its 2017 revenue, they generated more than 59 percent of its Ebitda. So brace yourself for an impact on earnings if the unrest gains traction.
The protests started on Nov. 10 with thousands of demonstrators demanding lower gasoline prices and taxes. Demonstrators marched on Paris’s Avenue des Champs-Elysees two weeks later, triggering social unrest. Surprisingly, the protest is benefiting from a significant backing, with 84 percent of the French public calling it “justified,” according to Odoxa-Dentsu poll for Le Figaro.
Further rioting over the weekend shows the movement is spinning out of control.
If this movement snowballs like we’ve seen in Italy with the Five Star Movement, Macron will have his hands full handling a crisis at home and have less time for the matters of the euro zone. After Greece, Brexit and Italy, this is another front that Europe didn’t need.
Emmanuel Macron’s ratings have been in free fall this year
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.