The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has instructed his prime minister to hold talks with protest groups after anti-government demonstrations led to the worst violence in central Paris in a decade, with more than 100 people injured as cars and buildings were set alight.
Macron is facing his biggest crisis since taking office 18 months ago after the violence erupted on Saturday following weeks of street protests that began against fuel taxes and have turned into an anti-government movement.
The Élysée and key ministers appeared to rule out imposing any kind of state of emergency after thousands of masked protesters from the gilets jaunes – named for their fluorescent yellow jackets – fought running battles with riot police, torched cars, set fire to banks and houses and burned makeshift barricades.
This all started as a protest against increased fuel costs. It kinda reminds me of the pitchfork protests that hit Italy some hears ago. A different genesis, to be sure, but it feels the same, as it's lashing out at politicians and their policies in general.
The French president who has prided himself on sticking to his guns even as his popularity levels tumbled, has reversed course and suspended a planned fuel-tax hike that had sent as many as 300,000 protesters into the streets for three weeks, with vivid images of the violent clashes in the heart of Paris making their rounds worldwide.
Sixty people, including 17 police officers and a fireman, were slightly injured Saturday on the 18th straight day of yellow vest demonstrations in Paris.
Protests turned violent as police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Protesters threw rocks and set up barricades.
On the Champs-Élysées, stores and restaurant windows were shattered and a newspaper stand was set on fire. Fouquet's, the restaurant where former President Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated his election in May 2007, was among the vandalized establishments. The restaurant's windows were smashed, its awning burned and its insides wrecked. Protesters used spray paint to write "Sarkozy has broken everything" on the restaurant's outside wall.
Apparently, there was a general strike in France yesterday. Maybe it's still going on today? I don't know. There's precious little coverage of this in the media. But on twitter, there was a lot of talk of flight delays because of the strike.
How should an elected government contend with an upswell that represents a lack of faith in the institutions of representative democracy? How should the authorities respond when there’s no logical political outlet for the discontent, when the movement, on principle, refuses to select leaders or become a party? Above all, how should Macron and his government respond to a movement that has strong elements who are in opposition not simply to policies, but to representative power itself?
...and this little tidbit, which encapsulates the core issue that can never be resolved in a democracy, and powers its ultimate path.
Among the central contradictions of the yellow-vest movement and their supporters is a desire for lower taxes and more state services.
____________________________________________________ Economics puts parameters on people’s utopias. ~Peter Boettke "It's the voter's fault" is victim-blaming in its purest sense. ~Don The 'social contract' is to the politician what 'original sin' is to the priest. ~Don The vision of the helpful and protective state is the most pervasive and counter-productive ideology in the world today. ~Don ____________________________________________________