France braces for trou­ble, Pres­i­dent Macron plans to ad­dress ‘yel­low vest’ anger

Cyprus Today - - UK -

FRANCE hun­kered down for an­other wave of po­ten­tially vi­o­lent protests to­day as un­der-fire Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron planned to ad­dress the na­tion next week over pub­lic anger at the cost of liv­ing, se­nior al­lies said.

Much of Paris will be in lock­down and tens of thou­sands of po­lice de­ployed across the na­tion to con­tain what pro­test­ers are billing as “Act IV” to the “yel­low vest” re­bel­lion that has seen the worst unrest in the cap­i­tal since 1968 stu­dent ri­ots.

Nav­i­gat­ing his big­gest cri­sis since be­ing elected, Mr Macron has left it largely to his prime min­is­ter, Edouard Philippe, to deal in pub­lic with the tur­moil and of­fer con­ces­sions.

But the 40-year-old is un­der mount­ing pres­sure to speak more fully as his ad­min­is­tra­tion tries to re­gain the ini­tia­tive fol­low­ing three weeks of unrest in the G7 na­tion.

“The Pres­i­dent will speak early next week. I think this is what the French peo­ple want, they want an­swers,” Trans­port Min­is­ter Elis­a­beth Borne told Sud Ra­dio yes­ter­day.

“The Pres­i­dent will send a mes­sage to the French that he is lis­ten­ing to their anger and that new an­swers have ob­vi­ously to be found.”

Pro­test­ers want Mr Macron to go fur­ther on eas­ing the bud­gets of hard-pressed house­holds: an in­crease to the min­i­mum wage is one de­mand. But the pres­i­dent, mind­ful of the coun­try’s deficit and not want­ing to flout EU rules, will have lit­tle wrig­gle room for more con­ces­sions.

Scrap­ping next year’s hikes to fuel taxes, the first ma­jor U-turn of his pres­i­dency, has al­ready cost the Trea­sury four bil­lion eu­ros.

The Eif­fel Tower, opera house, and Lou­vre are among dozens of mu­se­ums and tourist sites that will close to­day.

Au­thor­i­ties have also or­dered shut scores of lux­ury bou­tiques, restau­rants and pri­vate busi­nesses in the cen­tre of Paris.

The protests, named af­ter the high vis­i­bil­ity vests French mo­torists carry in their cars, erupted in Novem­ber due to the im­pact on fam­ily bud­gets of al­ready raised fuel taxes. Pro­test­ers de­mand lower taxes, higher salaries, cheaper en­ergy, bet­ter re­tire­ment pro­vi­sions and even Mr Macron’s res­ig­na­tion.

A ban­ner reads ‘Paris 3 fights’ at the Paris 3 New Sor­bonne Uni­ver­sity cam­pus on Thurs­day

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