More protests in France despite Macron's measures

PARIS • French police fired tear gas yesterday to push back protesters who tried to march towards the European Parliament building in the eastern city of Strasbourg on the 24th consecutive weekend of protests against President Emmanuel Macron's policies.

The so-called "yellow vest" protesters were back on the streets across France two days after Mr Macron outlined policy proposals, including tax cuts worth around €5 billion (S$7.6 billion), in response to the protests.

The protests, named after motorists' high-visibility jackets, began in November over fuel tax increases, but have morphed into a sometimes violent revolt against politicians and a government they see as out of touch. Many in the grassroots movement, which lacks a leadership structure, have said Mr Macron's proposals did not go far enough and most of what he announced lacked details.

 
 
 

Around 2,000 protesters had gathered near the seat of European Union institutions in Strasbourg, where organisers had planned to make the protest international by symbolically marching to the Parliament building, a month ahead of EU-wide parliamentary elections. Previous yellow-vest protests in Strasbourg had mostly been peaceful.

Fearing violence and the destruction of public buildings that have sometimes marred the demonstrations, the authorities had banned protests and barricaded the neighbourhood where the Parliament and other EU institutions are located.

A Reuters witness said police fired several canisters of tear gas to push back the demonstrators.

French television showed some hooded protesters throwing stones and other objects at police.

In the capital, Paris - which has witnessed some of the worst violence in past protests - yesterday's demonstration, jointly organised with hard-left trade union confederation CGT, was mostly calm.

Protesters also gathered in Lyon and Bordeaux.

The French Interior Ministry said around 5,500 protesters were taking part in yellow vest marches across France by 1200 GMT, compared with 9,600 a week earlier.

The number of protesters has dwindled from highs of over 300,000 nationwide in November to around 30,000 over the past few weeks, according to government estimates.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 28, 2019, with the headline 'More protests in France despite Macron's measures'. Print Edition | Subscribe