French president Emmanuel Macron, in a speech broadcast on national television, addressed yesterday evening the continued protests of the so-called 'yellow vests' in his country. He did not apologize for his style but immediately condemned the violence seen. Yet he meets his people halfway with a few promises that will have immediate effect.
"It is time for the peace to return," says Macron, who has been confronted with the protest of thousands of "yellow vests" in recent weeks. What started as a response to high fuel prices ended with a lot of violence and anger towards the head of state. No wonder his speech was eagerly awaited.
"We undoubtedly haven't been able to provide a sufficiently fast and strong response for a year and a half," said Macron. "I take my share of responsibility for this."
"I want tonight to be very clear with you. If I fought to shake up the political system, habits and hypocrisy it is precisely because I believe more than anything in our country and I love it."
Those who work for a minimum wage will receive 100 euros extra per month from January. "We want a France where we can all live worthy of the work we do," said Macron. "In addition, I ask all employers to pay their employees the end-of-year bonus."
And overtime will also be paid without tax levies from 2019 onwards. The new year is therefore already looking a bit better for the average French employee.
Furthermore, also the pensioners will receive something. For example, pensioners with a pension of less than 2,000 euros will no longer have to pay a generalized social contribution (CSG), a yearly tax.
"An unprecedented debate at national level must lead everything in the right direction. And you will be part of it," Macron said to the French people. "I accept my responsibility. This is a historic moment for the country and you are my only concern. Vive la république, vive la France! "
The opposition, both on left and right of the political spectrum, was however not impressed. They claim that Macron has promised only ‘breadcrumbs’ again and that he continues to be the ‘president of the rich’.
Political analysts however feel that there is one big advantage for the president at this point: the Christmas period and the coming winter period will normally freeze any upcoming protests. It is expected however that at the next faux-pas, protesters will be out on the streets again.
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