Saturday marked a fifth weekend of nationwide protest action by the so-called 'Yellow Vest' movement against falling living standards for low- and middle-income earners, but the numbers of those who turned out were significantly down on last Saturday, both in Paris and across the country.
The so-called 'Yellow Vest' movement of protests at falling living stanadards among low- and middle-income earners is expected to continue with a fifth day of action across France on Saturday, notably with marches in Paris where previous protests have been marred by violence and vandalism by extremists and hooligans.
French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux on Thursday called on the so-called Yellow Vest movement demanding better living standards for low- and midlle income earners not to hold another weekend of protests because of the strain placed on police and security forces after this week's terrorist attack in Strasbourg.
The continuing street demonstrations and blockades in France mounted by the so-called 'Yellow Vest' movement demanding an end to falling living standards for lower-income earners has become a 'catastrophe for our economy' said French finance minister Bruno Le Maire as he visited parts of Paris where commercial premises and vehicles were vanadlised during weekend protests.
French President Emmanuel Macron is to address the nation next week after a fourth day of nationwide protests by the so-called “yellow vests” movement against the falling living standards of low- and middle-income earners was held on Saturday in Paris and major towns and cities, when the interior ministry said a total of almost 1,400 people were arrested and 118 others injured amid scenes of vandalism and looting by troublemakers who joined the marches.
Ahead of what are forecast to be a major demonstrations on Saturday by a grass-roots movement of often violent protest over the living standards of middle-income earners, France's interior minister has announced 'large-scale security measures' in Paris, including the deployment of armoured vehicles, in face of what he said has become a 'monster' that has escaped the control of those who initiated the nationwide contestation.
One day after announcing a six-month freeze on the eco-tax that first prompted nationwide protets against his government's economic policies, and just hours after French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said he was prepared to reconsider the tax if other solutions could be found, the Elysée Palace said that Philippe and President Emmanuel Macron “both wished the increase in the carbon tax be removed” from the budget for 2019.
A movement against fuel tax hikes which grew on social media and which claims no political alliances, has attracted several hundreds of thousands of protestors across France this weekend to block roads in what is fast transforming into a movement of protest against falling living standards among modest income earners.
A woman died and more than 200 others were injured in France as an estimated 280,000 people joined the first day of nationwide roadblocks by a protest movement organised on social media and without apparent alliance to political parties, which began as a reaction against a tax hike on fuel costs but which has spread into a broader opposition to President Emmanuel Macron's economic policies, and notably standards of living for low-income earners.
A growing movement in France against fuel tax hikes and which claims no political alliances, plans a national day of action of road blocks across the country on Saturday as the protests widen to broader demands over diminishing purchasing power for people with modest incomes.
Turnout in nationwide street protests in France on Thursday against the government's programme of economic reforms, notably in the public sector and of the state-run railway system in particular, was significantly lower than a similar day of demonstrations in March, with police estimating around 110,000 people took part, while unions claimed the figure was 300,000.
After one year in office during which he has largely escaped any significant popular or political hostilities, French President Emmanuel Macron this month has seen a souring in public mood, his standing sliding in opinion polls amid a series of different social protests and strike action, all pointing to a new chapter of his five-year term in office.
As student protests and sit-ins gather momentum, railway services are disrupted with rolling strike action, and unrest simmers among healthcare staff and the legal professions, the May 1968 revolt that paralysed France and caused General de Gaulle to flee to Ireland was, say some observers, very different because it was inspired by hope and not the ambient pessimism of 2018.
French President Emmanuel Macron appeared in a lengthy interview on national television on Thursday, speaking from a school classroom in a village in north-west France, when he said that despite protests over his railways reforms, and also growing opposition to reforms of university selection procedures and the justice system, he and his government will stand firm with its policies 'because the world around us is speeding up, going through great changes, and because our country must be able to choose its destiny and live better'.
State sector employees, and notably railway workers, staged one-day strikes and demonstrations across France on Thursday in protest at planned government reforms that will see spending cuts and job reductions and which President Emmanuel Macron's government intends introducing by decree and without parliamentary debate.