Publicado: Jue, Diciembre 06, 2018
Financiera | Por Marilu Caballero

France abandons fuel tax hike for 2019 after yellow vest protests

France abandons fuel tax hike for 2019 after yellow vest protests

The so-called "yellow vest" protesters have still vowed to stage demonstrations alongside trade unions and farmers.Jacline Mouraud, the self-proclaimed spokesperson for the "yellow vests", told The Associated Press that Macron's move "is on the right path but in my opinion it will not fundamentally change the movement".

The proposed fuel tax was implemented to combat global climate change; protesters, especially those in the suburbs, said it imposed too high a burden and was unaffordable.

Farmers union FNSEA said it would fight to help farmers earn a better income, though it said it would not officially be joining forces with the "yellow vests", as the protesters have come to be called after the high-visibility vests French motorists are required to keep in their cars, and which they don for demonstrations.

The unrest poses the most formidable challenge yet to Macron's presidency, with the escalating violence and depth of public anger against his economic reforms catching the 40-year-old leader off-guard and battling to regain control.

Four people have died since protests began in November.

It quickly grew into wider protests against Macron, whom many accuse of representing a Parisian elite with little understanding of their monthly struggle to make ends meet.

Yet many others said they had no intention of stopping the demonstrations.

"But they do have something in common with the extreme right and the radical left: a profound dislike of Mr. Macron".

In a major U-turn for the government, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced in a live televised address that the planned increases set for January would be postponed until summer.

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On Wednesday, De Rugy said a period of a year was made a decision to assuage fears that the unpopular increase would be merely postponed, only to be reintroduced once the protests stop.

"No tax is worth putting the nation's unity in danger", Philippe said, just three weeks after insisting that the government wouldn't change course in its determination to wean French consumers off polluting fossil fuels.

Polling showed that 70 percent of French residents opposed the measure, even after they elected Macron in a landslide a year ago.

Macron and Philippe's approval ratings hit new lows in the wake of the crisis.

Macron had made cutting wealth taxes a key campaign pledge ahead of his election in May 2017, arguing such levies discourage investment and drive entrepreneurs away.

But that policy, along with various comments deemed insensitive to ordinary workers, has prompted numerous ex-banker's critics to label him a "president of the rich".

"When you leave things to fester too long, it costs more", Jean-Francois Amadieu, a sociologist at Paris 1 University, told AFP.

Protest and street violence has been a central part of France's political culture - from the Revolution in the late 1700s to the student riots in 1968 - and the yellow vest movement reflects this tradition. Violent rampaging last Saturday devastated the French capital. Some 4,500 police officers were deployed to deal with about 10,000 protesters in Paris alone.

Fuel shortages due to blockades remain a problem in areas of Brittany, Normandy and southeast regions of France.

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