French President Emmanuel Macron is holding a series of town halls across his country in a desperate attempt to quell the angry populace that has risen against him, The New York Times reports.
Macron appeared in city of Souillac last week to kick off the “Great National Debate,” a two-month series of town hall meetings where the French president will hear questions and rebukes from thousands of his constituents. Macron’s meeting in Souillac lasted roughly eight hours in which he stood before 600 mayors and “yellow vest” representatives.
Yellow vest protesters – named after the neon-yellow traffic vests they wear – have protested, set fires, blocked roads and destroyed property across France since mid-November. Tens of thousands of protesters have regularly turned out to protest for lower taxes, higher wages and more expansive safety net. Protesters have also called for Macron’s resignation.
The protests began after Macron proposed hiking the country’s gas and diesel tax once again. Thousands of Frenchmen, worried that the new tax hike drive them into poverty, traveled to Paris to demonstrate against the administration. Macron scrapped the proposed tax hike in December, but the protests have continued.
Macron’s latest gambit to ease the national unrest is to make himself more accessible than he has ever been since the yellow vest movement started. His three prior attempts at reconciliation have all failed.
Macron’s first failure to quell the protests was rescinding his proposed tax. The second came on Dec. 10 when he delivered a nationwide address begging for the people to give the government “another chance.”
In his third attempt, Macron went tough. In a Dec. 31 address to the nation, Macron condemned the protesters.
Though the protesters believe “that they are speaking in the name of the people … In fact, they are merely speaking for a hateful mob” that targets “police, journalists, Jews, foreigners, homosexuals,” Macron stated.
Macron’s statement had the opposite of its intended effect, riling up more protests and incentivizing further destruction and chaos.
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