French prime minister suspends eco-tax, protests continue
France’s prime minister announced yesterday the suspension of a planned eco-tax on heavy-load trucks for the whole of France (even if protests were only in Brittany), to allow “time for national and regional dialogue”, Les Echos reports. Jean-Marc Ayrault insisted that “suspension does not mean abolition," while protest organisers demand that the tax be completely scrapped, confirming that the protest for Saturday 2 November will go ahead. It is the seventh time for the Socialist government to back-pedal on measures. This time the disappointed Green coalition partner might even leave the coalition over this debacle. Humiliating, sign of weakness, surprise move are the words used to describe Ayrault’s decision.
The protests might not be over yet and has the hallmarks to end up in a broad based revolt against the government. Protesters used strong visual images, the red bonnets, to recall an uprising in 1675 against a tax hike to finance a war against the Dutch (in French: Hollande). It is a powerful visual symbol, writes Le Monde, which is about to turn into anti-tax movement with the help of social media, marking a shift to the right. The right-wing agitation against any and all tax increases is unlikely to subside, also writes rfi. FAZ Editor Günther Nonnenmacher concludes events show that France is essentially ungovernable.