Emmanuel Macron has signalled for France’s Prime Minister to suspend fuel tax hikes that have
sparked widespread protests and unrest across France, sources say.
The French PM Edouard Philippe is to announce a suspension of the fuel tax hikes on Tuesday,
the AFP news agency reports.
It comes as Mr Macron and Mr Philippe’s approval ratings hit new lows as the so-called “yellow
vest” protests gathered pace.
Mr Philippe is set to meet with representatives of the groups involved on Tuesday, alongside his
attempts to diffuse the tension and hold off further chaos.
Protests in Paris on December 1 turned particularly violent, with the Arc de Triomphe defaced
and avenues off Paris’s Champs Elysees vandalised.
More than 100 people were injured in the French capital and 412 have been arrested over the
weekend, in what was France’s worst urban riot in years.
Dozens of cars were torched during the mass acts of vandalism which came with the uproar.
Police responded with tear gas and water cannons, while they shut down dozens of streets and
subway stations to contain the frenzied scenes.
The first “yellow vest” demonstrations were held on November 17, originally to contest fuel-tax
rises, and have since evolved into a broader protest movement, in part against the policies of
Those held over the last weekend marked the third in a row where there were protests, both in
Paris and elsewhere in France.
Three people have died from incidents linked to the protests so far.
Mr Macron, as he arrived back from the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, held an emergency
meeting Sunday on security.
The government has not ruled out the possibility of imposing a state of emergency.
On Monday, French paramedics joined the ongoing anti-government protests, as the prime
minister met with political rivals in a bid to ease anger following the violent fallout of the weekend.
Ambulances blocked a bridge leading to the National Assembly while lines of riot police officers
stood in the rain to prevent them from getting too close to the building.
Paramedics were involved to complain about changes to working conditions.
After meeting the President, Laurent Wauquiez, head of centre-right Les Republicains party,
urged Macron to hold a referendum to end the crisis.
However, he did not say what its topic should be.
“French people need to be heard again, and for that we must organise a referendum to decide
these issues. Only these measures will restore calm,” Mr Wauquiez said.
Socialist leader Olivier Faure urged the PM to drop the tax hikes and to restore a wealth tax,
which was slashed by the centrist government.
“We want a change in the method. One needs to come down from Mount Olympus,” Mr Faure
said, referring to Macron’s Greek god nickname of Jupiter.
President Macron and Prime Minister Philippe’s approval ratings hit new lows amid the actions
President Macron’s approval rating fell to 23 per cent in the poll conducted late last week, which
was down six points on the previous month, according to an Ifop-Fiducial poll for Paris Match and
Sud Radio published on Tuesday.
While the French PMs rating fell 10 points to 26 per cent, according to the same research.
The score of the President matches the low charted by his predecessor Francois Hollande in late
2013, according to Paris Match.
Mr Hollande was then considered to be the least popular leader in modern French history.
Due to the protests, Mr Macron has postponed a trip to Serbia which had been scheduled to
improve relations between the two countries.
“President Macron has asked to postpone for several weeks his visit to Serbia due to the
situation in his country,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters after a phone call with
Macron’s office confirmed the trip would be postponed because of “the incidents that took place
in the last protests.”
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