Sat, Dec 08, 2018 - Page 14 News List

France halts fuel tax hikes in bid to calm fiery protests
猛烈抗議難以平息 法國暫緩調漲燃油稅

Protestors wearing yellow vests pull down the grating of the Tuileries Gardens next to the Rue de Rivoli during a demonstration in central Paris on Dec. 1.

Photo: AFP

The French government announced Tuesday that it would suspend planned increases in fuel taxes for six months in a bid to quell fierce protests that have ballooned into the deepest crisis of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency. The concession was one of several made by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in a rare televised address, after the country was rocked by intense street clashes and vandalism in Paris over the weekend.

“This anger, you would have to be deaf and blind not to see it, nor hear it,” Philippe said after more than a fortnight of demonstrations by so-called “yellow vest” protesters. “No tax merits putting the unity of the nation in danger,” he added.

Pressure has been mounting after protests degenerated into the worst street clashes in central Paris in decades, leading to scores of injuries and arrests. The concessions, coming after an earlier 500-million-euro (US$570 million) relief package for poorer households, mark the first time French President Emmanuel Macron has had to give ground in the face of public opposition.

“The French don’t want crumbs, they want the whole baguette,” Benjamin Cauchy, one of the movement’s organizers, told AFP earlier Monday when asked about the suspension of fuel taxes. Rescinding the increase was the main demand of the demonstrators, alongside a higher minimum wage and the return of a wealth tax on high-earners that was abolished last year.

The “yellow vest” movement, named after the high-visibility jackets worn by supporters, emerged on social media in October after months of swelling anger over rising fuel prices. It quickly grew into wider protests against rising costs of living, especially among rural and small-town voters who accuse Macron of representing a Parisian elite with little understanding of their monthly struggle to make ends meet.








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