France is reeling from the so-called ‘yellow vest’ protesters and their violent street demonstrations – and so is its president Emmanuel Macron.
No longer a revolt against taxes and the much-higher cost of living, the movement has grown into a monster of a challenge to the nation’s government and institutions.
Over the weekend, over-zealous protesters lit fires, attacked riot police, and used, among other things, a forklift to smash into a government compound.
Under the microscope now are not just the ways in which law enforcement responds, but what Macron – who is already planning cuts to unemployment benefits and downsizing government staffs – does next.
On Sunday evening, Macron wrote on Twitter: “Once again, the Republic was attacked with extreme violence – its guardians, its representatives, its symbols.” His spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said last week that protests or not, Macron’s administration was not about to back down on these and other planned reforms.
Perhaps ironically, Griveaux was soon after forced to vacate his offices after protesters forced their way into its courtyard and destroyed a large number of vehicles.
The higher taxes stem from environmental regulations not unlike the Paris Climate Accord that was rejected by the Trump administration. Its central aim, according to the United Nations, was “to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to increase the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change, and at making finance flows consistent with a low GHG emissions and climate-resilient pathway.”
On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation. Trump stated that “The Paris accord will undermine (the U.S.) economy,” and “puts (the U.S.) at a permanent disadvantage.” During the presidential campaign, Trump had pledged to withdraw from the pact, saying a withdrawal would help American businesses and workers. Trump stated that the withdrawal would be in accordance with his America First policy.
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