France’s Yellow Vest protest movement is expected to mark its one-year anniversary today with demonstrations in Paris and other cities across the country.
Spawned by motorists protesting fuel tax rises, the movement rapidly escalated into a wider anti-government protest against perceived inequalities. This forced concessions from President Emmanuel Macron, including tax cuts and dropping the fuel tax increases.
The problem for the Yellow Vest’s is the vast spectrum of differing opinion—from far-left to far-right—within the movement’s ranks, united only by a shared disdain for Macron. Therefore, the electoral risk to Macron is limited for now—Yellow Vest-aligned candidates only attracted 1% of EU electoral votes in April.
However, underlying disenchantment remains, and Macron’s low popularity in polling bears this out. Despite his unpopularity, Macron looks set to push through a controversial universal pension plan, which he views as necessary to plug a chronic budget deficit he hopes to wipe out by 2025. Macron is likely gambling on the fragmented Yellow Vest movement’s being a spent force.
Authorities expect thousands to march today. However, the real litmus test of Macron’s strategy is the planned transport worker protests on December 5, where he risks reawakening the relatively subdued Yellow Vests as the major force it was early this year.
John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.