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.
穿著「黃背心」的抗議民眾,十二月一日在巴黎市中心的示威行動中,拆毀杜樂麗花園靠近里沃利街側的柵欄。

Photo: AFP
照片:法新社

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.

(AFP)

法國政府週二宣布暫緩調漲燃油稅六個月,試圖平息這場已擴大為法國總統馬克宏任內最大危機的猛烈抗議行動。繼上週末爆發激烈街頭衝突,巴黎市容亦遭破壞而深深撼動全國後,法國總理菲力普相當罕見地以電視演講方式宣布數項讓步。

「黃背心」抗議民眾發起多次示威遊行超過兩星期後,總理菲力普表示:「除非你又聾又瞎,不然你絕不會看不見、也不會聽不到這樣的憤怒。」他補充說:「沒有任何稅收值得讓國家團結陷入危機。」

隨著抗議行動惡化成為巴黎市中心數十年來最糟的街頭衝突,造成數十人受傷或遭逮捕,壓力也逐漸升高。法國政府不久前向貧困家庭提出五億歐元(五億七千萬美元)的紓困方案,此回又做出數項讓步,可說是法國總統馬克宏首次被迫向民怨退讓。

抗議活動的領袖之一,班傑明·寇西週一稍早被問到對暫緩調漲燃油稅的看法時,向法新社表示:「法國人不要麵包屑,他們要整條法國麵包」。示威群眾的主要訴求仍是撤銷調漲決定,以及提高最低工資,並且恢復去年廢止向高收入階級課徵的富人稅。

這場「黃背心」運動,因支持者穿著高度醒目的外套而得名,來自民眾對於攀升油價醞釀數個月的怒氣,從十月開始浮現在社群網站。抗議運動很快地就演變成抗議物價上漲的大規模示威。來自農村或小型城鎮的選民特別對物價上漲感到不滿,他們更指控馬克宏代表巴黎的菁英份子,對於他們每個月要多費力才能達到收支平衡幾乎一無所知。

(台北時報章厚明譯)

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