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Home / World / Gilet's jaunes jubilee: France's yellow vest is desperate for a direction

Gilet's jaunes jubilee: France's yellow vest is desperate for a direction

And yet, Sunday will be the first anniversary of a successful popular uprising that seemed to come out of nowhere just to disappear – but not before it has achieved many of its original goals and inspired other leaderless movements elsewhere. [19659002] On a sunny Saturday afternoon a year ago, more than 250,000 people with the yellow west required by French law walked the streets of France to stay in the trunk of their car in the event of a breakdown. The spark of their anger: an increase in fuel tax announced by the government in the name of fighting climate change.

For the worst that can be traded outside of France's largest cities, the tax looked like another attack by a separate elite, not only for their already stretched paperbacks, but also for their dignity.

Some spoke of the great worries of the rich about the end of the world, which took precedence over the immediate existential fears of the poorest towards the end of the month. Others fear that the tax hike benefits the government rather than the environment. Everyone agreed that it was just money they could not afford.

As Samy Shalaby, an early yellow west activist explains, "The problem with this tax is that if you live in a suburb, you live in the countryside and you may need to work an hour from home to work Gasoline to fill your car, and it is very expensive for these people, for the citizens in big cities less expensive because there is public transport ̵

1; but not in the country, not in the suburbs. "

unseen – theirs Daily struggles lacking in the endless political debates of French television – the yellow west went into rage, but also in a mood of rare solidarity and optimism on the streets. Here was a movement – with its highly visible symbol – that would finally bring them and their daily struggles out of the shadows.

This ethos still resonates with the demonstrator Franck Barrenho. "I'm so proud to be a yellow waistcoat, have a long life fighting for the Yellow Vest, and we'll change the world together," he says.

At the roadblocks that they erected after this first big Saturday, there was a sense of community coupled with a sense that many people felt for the first time. Here they finally felt understood and understood – their struggles were now the focus of political attention, and their daily routine was bound to something much bigger than themselves. Like at the beginning of every revolution, it drove the initial sense of not being alone, week after week Week, even if the winter weather started.

  Protesters wrapped in French flags lie on the ground-level riot police on the Champs Elysées on 8 December 2018.

Optimism Transforms into Rage

Quite fast, though the initial optimism of the movement turned into rage. Paris burned in early December. And every week, the police fought to contain the violence of some of the most radical elements. Dressed by the extreme left and the extreme right, many of them seemed equally determined not to change politics but to overthrow the system itself. Anti-Semitic songs were heard during Saturday's protests, journalists were brutally attacked, and symbols of prosperity – from banks to luxury cars – were vandalized.

In the first weeks of the protest, the police seemed overwhelmed. The government's numerous concessions – from the abolition of the exit tax to a € 10 billion package of wage increases and tax relief for the poorest – seemed to only deepen the movement's resolve and broaden the scope of its demands. Abolition of the tax on the need to reduce the high cost of living, to the end of general inequality.

Week after week, the protest became much more personal, with songs and posters addressed to President Emmanuel Macron himself. In early January, and after so many concessions from the government, the demonstrators would tell you that nothing less than his resignation would bring them home. Samy Shalaby explains, "These people had to have purchasing power to get gas in their car, so the protest started, but after that people wanted to challenge more than one tax, they wanted to change democracy, taxation, and excise duty." entire economic model … they wanted to change the entire policy of the state.

  President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a special address to the nation about the protests of Gilets Jaunes at the Elysee Palace in Paris on December 10, 2018.


Man of the People

And so the French president set out to campaign for them, during a tour of France and a sort of national group therapy session held He conducted a series of marathon meetings with local officials and ordinary citizens over several weeks to hear first-hand complaints, and the exercise allowed him to vent himself and see him on the side of the people, his sleeves rolled up and his resolute demeanor. For a president who had almost been charged with his election and partly because of his early reform of the The practice allowed him to be more human than he was of course

. But much more than dialogue, it was ultimately new, controversial laws against insurgency and tighter police tactics only made it possible to stem the violence and to gradually slow down the movement.

In the spring the violence became more and more sporadic and week by week the numbers on the streets of France faded. Slowly, the Champs Élysées stayed open, tourists returned and for a while, in cities like Paris, two different realities appeared side by side until life returned to normal and the Gilets Jaunes seemed to disappear.

  Protesters sing slogans during the demonstration on the Champs-Elysées on December 8, 2018 in Paris.

What has been achieved?

One year later, the cost to the economy is hard to measure. The government estimates that companies lost € 850 million in revenue compared to the previous year, while the cost to the state of repairing damaged infrastructure and funding additional police hours is estimated at € 297 million. According to the Ministry of Interior, the personnel costs amount to 2,400 demonstrators and 1,800 injured, as well as 11 dead, mainly in traffic accidents. According to organizers of the yellow vest, 24 people have lost an eye.

Given these costs, it's hard to say what was achieved by the movement, not least in the Yellow West. Samy Shalaby is one of the pessimists of the movement.

"It was not a successful move, we did not achieve anything, the government gave us nothing, just law enforcement and street violence – nothing else, the only positive thing." The result may have been solidarity between people, more communication between them, and more information to understand what is happening in the world and in the nation.

  A demonstrator collides with the riot police in Paris on December 1, 2018.


And in the face of the challenge that no longer exists for Macron's future, but for the continuation of the movement, w The question the Gilets Jaunes face this weekend will be the same as they have been asked every Saturday for much of last year: how many safety vests can they take to the streets this time?

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