The Gilets jaunes protests twist Macron’s arm

Tuesday 18th December 2018 | Jake

On Monday the 10th of December, French president Emmanuel Macron addressed an angry nation. Civil unrest has brought his fledgling presidency into question, with nationwide protests, dubbed the gilets jaunes due to the protestors’ yellow vests, lasting weeks culminating in a series of concessions made by Macron in his televised address to the country.

The irony, however, of Macron addressing the nation from behind a gilded desk in the president’s salubrious Élysée Palace, was not lost on protestors. One of the main complaints from the gilets jaunes is that Macron is a president for the rich. The protests were unabated, in spite of Macron’s emergency measures, which includes raising the minimum wage by roughly £90 a month. A fifth weekend of demonstrations and barricades took place on the weekend of the 15th of December.


The gilets jaunes initially railed against a fuel tax rise dubbed the ‘eco-tax’. The eco-tax has since been dropped from the 2019 budget, but by that point the gilets jaunes protest had developed a wider focus: Macron’s presidency.

Macron’s approval ratings have plummeted, although French presidents have notoriously low approval ratings after a year or two in office. 18 months since striding into the Élysée Palace on a centrist platform, Macron has implemented an array of fiscal measures. They have gained him the nickname of ‘president of the rich’. In particular his lifting of the ISF, a tax on the rich, garnered particular scorn, but Macron maintains he won’t reintroduce the tax.


The gilets jaunes protests continue then, with no sight of respite for the beleaguered Macron. Another round of concessions is plausible, in order to relieve cities of widespread riots. The gilets jaunes say Macron’s reforms and budgets have made it nearly impossible to make ends meet for the working class, in his greatest crisis since election, the president of the rich must struggle to make them meet too.