Politique Analysis

How the power of ridicule has again become a feared weapon in French protest politics

After its deeply-unpopular pension reform was forced into law, the government of President Emmanuel Macron set itself a target of 100 days to calm the country and reduce the level of protest. But instead the tone and style of the protests have simply changed; from outright anger to one of mockery. As Mathieu Dejean writes, the government is right to worry about the new derision it faces. For mockery and ridicule have triumphed over inflexible governments in the past.

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The idea that the protests over pension reforms in France would run out of steam has proven ill-founded. President Emmanuel Macron, who addressed the nation on April 17th, and his government had hoped that the protests would quieten down, and announced plans to restore a sense of calm to the country within 100 days. But in vain. After dozens of demonstrations against the reforms that were as full of discontent as they were huge, a sense of melancholy, fatalism and resignation initially threatened the social movement. However, it has now found a new lease of life – through mockery.

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