It took an immense police force and armored vehicles, but extreme violence was mostly absent on Saturday in Paris. It was not as dramatic as last week when the Arc de Triomphe was trashed and the head of a statue of Marianne, the symbol of France, was broken. That is about all the gains President Emmanuel Macron has made though.
But the anger remains. Because it is much deeper than dissatisfaction about the increase of an ecotax on fuel. If the president had immediately sensed that this tax would be perceived as very wrong, he might have been able to prevent the riots in Paris. But the angered French would have probably put on their yellow vests with a next unwelcome measure.
The 'Gilets Jaunes' have seized on the rise in fuel taxation to make themselves visible. President Macron, just as his predecessors Holland and Sarkozy, had not seen noticed that for years the gap between the French with a small salary and the city elite grew ever larger.
Those who could no longer pay a house in the city and ended up in medium-sized places, where there is less employment and where it is difficult at the end of the month, versus the French in the city who are unaware of those problems and are more concerned about the end of the world and ecological issues.
Related coverage: Gilets Jaunes Protests – Tear Gas In Paris, Violence In Brussels (Video)
The eco-tax on fuel made this break clear, because the French 'from the periphery', which really need a car, noticed that life was getting hard. The insistence with which the government stated that diesel drivers should simply buy a cleaner car (and would even get a premium for it) made it clear that the two worlds are very far apart.
President Macron alone cannot be blamed for the gap that has arisen. Factories closed and caused unemployment whilst the law of supply and demand resulted in ever higher house prices in metropolitan areas. All this is because globalization is an irreversible process.
But this head of state did not realize that his ecological measures made the gap even bigger.
Dissatisfaction of the middle class
Such a gap is not easy to close. Rural areas must be given a boost to enable the lower middle class to join in again.
President Macron should get rid of the idea that the economy revolves around metropolitan areas. But that is a process of years, while he is now being asked for concrete and immediate measures.
With a government debt of almost 100 percent of national wealth, he has little room for maneuvering.
Moreover, he does not insist on raising the minimum wage or reintroducing the tax on wealth, a measure requested by the yellow vests.
He will speak one of these days. Finally, because he showed little interest in the last three weeks that the protests flared up. He will have to come up with a clear solution showing that he is more than a technocrat.
Outside the country's borders, his reaction is also eagerly awaited because the man who presented himself as the new leader of Europe cannot be seen to be so unpopular in his own country. If he doesn’t solve this issue, Mr Macron will lose his international credibility
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