The French government announced to suspend planned increases in fuel taxes for six months in a bid to calm fierce protests that have ballooned into the deepest crisis of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency.The president asked the prime minister to solve the crisis and end the street protests which turned violent on last weakened.
The French Prime Minister made the televised address to nation and announced the decision to withdraw tax. “This anger, you would have to be deaf and blind not to see it, nor hear it,” Philippe said after more than a fortnight of demonstrations by so-called “yellow vest” protesters. “No tax merits putting the unity of the nation in danger,” he added.
He also announced other concessions like frozen the Increases in regulated electricity and gas prices during the winter, while stricter vehicle emission controls set to take effect from January 1 will be suspended for six months. “The French people who have put on yellow vests love their country, they want lower taxes and for their work to pay: That´s also what we want,” Philippe said.
Pressure has been mounting after protests degenerated into the worst street clashes in central Paris in decades, leading to scores of injuries and arrests. It was one of the worst unrest and protests in recent years. The French government finally realised the gravity of the situation and decided to concede to public demands.
The concessions, coming after an earlier 500-million-euro (570 million-dollar) relief package for poorer households, mark the first time President Emmanuel Macron has had to give ground in the face of public opposition. The government was hoping that the protest movement will fizzle out after couple of weeks but instead it started to grow and spread.
The withdrawal of fuel tax and price increase was the main demand of the demonstrators, alongside a higher minimum wage and the return of a wealth tax on high-earners which was abolished last year.French Prime Minister Philippe said that France´s minimum wage was already set to increase three percent from January, “one of the biggest increases in the past 25 years.”
It was a big blow for the former investment banker and now president Macron who has styled himself as a determined economic reformer. Mass street protests have repeatedly forced previous French presidents into U-turns, something that Macron had vowed to avoid in his quest to “transform” the French economy and state. So macron is not an exception and faced the same fate.
The organisers and opposition parties have rejected the postponement of fuel tax and other austerity measures. They are demanding a complete withdrawal of tax and other measures. The anger will not go away so easily. Macron came to power with massive support just 17 months ago to clean the economy and politics. But he is now facing fierce resistance on the streets against his policies. He kept complete silence over protests which shock many around the world.
Even school and university students joined the protests to show their anger and dislike. The entry of students in the protests changed the situation and pressure increased on the government. Finally, the streets and people power won in France.
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16 November, 2019