November 27, 2018
Responding to the yellow-vest protest
How to respond to the gilets jaunes, the yellow-vest demonstrators? Emmanuel Macron will give his response later today after promising a change of method yesterday. Bruno Le Maire already announced measures for those businesses most affected by the strikes. This protest movement cannot be ignored even if the numbers drop. It continues to be virulent.
One of the main challenges is that this is a protest movement without an intermediary, as no political current or trade union represents its causes. Emmanuel Macron himself rode a wave of grass-root power to break the ranks of traditional politics and land in the Élysée palace. As president, though, he seem to have forgotten about the citizens' platforms that were so prominent during his campaign, and instead concentrated on reinstating vertical power throughout the existing system. Now he faces the same genie he once called upon.
Nicolas Beytout calls for some bold moves for public confidence to return. Macron should not change the carbon tax but instead launch a strong fiscal stimulus package with visible tax cuts to get the French out of their pessimistic slumber, he writes. This would reinvigorate the sense of innovation and audacity that marked Macron during his campaign. On the left we have Laurent Mauduit advocating an immediate moratorium on the diesel and petrol tax to give space for a dialogue out of the stand off. Eric Le Boucher and Cécile Cornudet argue that this is a proper crisis of democracy where people no longer trust or listen to their leaders. Just to reduce the stand-off to a question of carbon tax would be too simplistic. There is more at stake here. We agree.