It began as a home-spun Facebook campaign against French fuel tax increases. But in a few weeks it has spiralled into a movement powerful enough to force Emmanuel Macron into the biggest U-turn of his presidency، Reuters reported.
Protesters wearing yellow vests، the symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel prices، occupy a roundabout in Gaillon، France، December 6، 2018. REUTERSPhilippe Wojazer Yet the “yellow-vest” movement — named for the fluorescent jackets carried by French motorists — remains an amorphous، hard-to-define group with a rapidly shifting agenda.
It has no leader. It named eight spokespeople، some of whom disagreed with each other and one of whom was promptly sacked. Members are broadly opposed to decision-making authority.
One of its originators، a 51-year-old accordionist from Brittany called Jacline Mouraud who also works in hypnotherapy and makes YouTube videos، received death threats after suggesting the movement should talk to the government.
Anyone who has a “gilet jaune” — and most people in France suddenly seem to — can put it on and become part of the movement، meaning it brings together people of hugely different ages، social classes، occupations and views.
This is its strength but also its weakness.
The government does not know who to engage with، even though the movement has drawn hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets، closing roads and fuel depots، and spurring riots and violence in the capital Paris on successive weekends.
Since Macron gave in to the movement’s main demand on Wednesday by scrapping a fuel-tax increase set for January، the “yellow vests” have also been trying to agree on other issues to fight for — from boosting household incomes to reinstating a wealth tax or ousting Macron.
“He betrayed us. He was elected promising to blow out political parties، no left، no right، to reconnect political power with the people،” Christophe Chalençon، a blacksmith from Provence in southern France who has become one of the more recognisable faces of the movement، told Reuters.
“He’s done the opposite. We’re only the mirror of what he had proposed، what he sold to us. We need a new representative body،” said Chalencon، who has been criticised for postings on social media that some have seen as anti-Muslim.