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18 December, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Macron govt hopes ‘yellow vest’ protests running out of steam

AFP, Paris
Macron govt hopes ‘yellow vest’ protests running out of steam
Around 66,000 people turned out again on Saturday across France for a fifth round of protests, half the number of the previous weekend. AFP Photo

The French government was on Sunday hoping the sharp

drop in “yellow vest” demonstrators signalled an end to the biggest crisis of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency, but conceded “mistakes” had been made.

Around 66,000 people turned out again on Saturday across France for a fifth round of protests which sprung up over fuel tax hikes last month before snowballing into broader opposition to Macron—half the number of the previous weekend.

In an interview with Les Echos newspaper published online Sunday evening, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the government had “made mistakes” and “not listened enough to the French people”.

He added that there would be a debate on the holding of referendums to help decide government policy—one of the protesters’ key demands—saying they could be a “good tool of democracy”.

“One stage is behind us, certainly,” added Education Minister Michel Blanquer. “And I think that that is in everybody’s interest, including the yellow vests.”

Although the drop in protesters suggested the momentum of the “yellow vest” movement was waning, sociologist Herve Le Bras from the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) warned they would leave a bitter legacy.

“It is calming down but what remains of it all is a strong feeling of hatred towards Macron,” he said.

Many of the protesters have targeted Macron personally, calling on him to resign or attacking his background as an investment banker.

Le Bras said the protests had underlined the depth of dislike for the president’s personality and style of governing, which critics see as arrogant and too distant. A major poll by the Ifop group published in Journal du Dimanche newspaper showed Macron’s approval rating had slipped another two points in the last month, to 23 percent.

The proportion of people who declared themselves “very dissatisfied” by his leadership jumped by six points to 45 percent.

An Opinionway poll for LCI television, however, registered a two-point increase to 31 percent overall. The poll was carried out in the aftermath of Tuesday’s deadly attack on Strasbourg’s Christmas market.

Until last week, a clear majority of French people backed the protests, which sprung up initially over high taxes before snowballing into broader opposition to Macron.

In a bid to end the standoff, he announced a package of measures for low-income workers on Monday in a televised address, estimated by economists to cost up to 15 billion euros ($17 billion).

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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