Violence in France Due to Fuel Tax and the Macron Administration


For the past month, protests both peaceful and violent against Emmanuel Macron, President of France, have afflicted Paris and other cities throughout France.  Earlier this month, President Macron, in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the campaign to reduce carbon emissions, had imposed a tax on fuel, such as gasoline and diesel, and he increased the electricity tax.  Macron, as a pioneer in the movement against climate change, is instituting this tax in hopes that a gradual switch to electric cars will be facilitated.

However, protestors known as “gilets jaunes” or “yellow vests” are protesting specifically against the fuel tax, as well as the overall Macron administration and all the other high taxes he has established.  As Macron is a wealthy upperclassman, these rioters are protesting the true capability of Macron to be in office, arguing he does not represent the middle class and poor citizens of France.

Within recent days, protests have become especially violent; this surge of revolt was met with strong federal force.  During violent protests, many “gilets jaunes” sacked and burned cars, destroyed street shops, marched forcefully through roads, vandalized famous edifices such as the Arc de Triomphe, and even stoned French police.  This was met with tens of thousands of federal police who were issued to defuse the revolt. In doing so, they tear-gassed thousands of protesters across France, hurling tear-gas canisters into large groups. Additionally, to stop this intense violence, federal officials were forced to fire rubber bullets into crowds and spray water cannons.  Although the federal police were intended to defuse violence and upset, the presence of the officials did the contrary, fostering an even deeper animosity for the Macron administration and its enactment of high taxes and high cost of living.

Ilda, a protestor in South France, made clear, “we have to change the Republic.  People here are starving. Some people earn just 500 euros a month; you can’t afford to live. People don’t want to stop because we want the President to go.”

Boris Kharlamoff, a protester shot with a rubber bullet explained, “a policeman shot at me with a rubber bullet even though my press armband was showing.  It hurts but it’s all right. Colleagues be careful on the Champs-Élysées.”

In result to these persistent, incessant riots, President Macron has suspended the fuel tax, promising that it would not be instituted until after 2019.  Even since the fuel tax, one of the main triggers of the protests, has been postponed, the people of France are now waging a more substantial battle against electricity prices, wages, pensions, education prices, rent, and taxes on many other items.  This war includes hatred against Macron, himself. Groups of anarchists are also part of these riots.

As one yellow-vest aired on television said, “we have to stop stealing from the pockets of low-income taxpayers.  We are not going to drop our guard.”