“France’s Meltdown, Macron’s Disdain” by Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, published on the Gatestone Institute website: www.gatestoneinstitute.org/13364/france-meltdown-macron-disdain provides more background on the ongoing “yellow vest”— gilets jaunes— protests in France, which Road Rules first addressed when they began in mid-November.
Dr. Millière begins by detailing how French President Macron’s statements and policies in many areas have driven his approval rating down to 26% making him “the most unpopular French President in modern history at this stage of his mandate.” Dr. Millière begins to zero in on the current situation by noting that Macron’s relentless fight about climate change has made cars his “targeted enemy.”
This focus on climate has prompted changes in French laws including making mandatory technical controls on vehicles over four years old more expensive, and failure to comply more punitive, in the hope of eliminating older cars; lowering the speed limits on most roads to 80 kmh/50 mph; and adding speed control radars resulting in the suspension of tens of thousands of drivers’ licences. Then “the final straw,”— the spark that has set not only Paris burning in what some are calling the worst rioting in France in over 50 years — the increase in gas taxes to the point where a gallon of unleaded gas in France now costs more than $7.
If these tax increases had been designed to address Frances myriad economic woes —we speculate here— perhaps the reaction to them may have been more restrained. But French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe described them as “not for the pleasure of annoying the French, but because we want to tax carbon more than labor” and President Macron confirmed this purpose on November 27, in delivering “a solemn speech, announcing that he would create a “high council for the climate”, composed of ecologists and professional politicians. The purpose of the council would be supposedly take steps to avoid “the end of the world…[without uttering] a single word about the economic grievances that had poured forth during the previous ten days.”
On Sunday December 2, Paris police reported 133 people injured and 412 arrested. Photographs of the clashes around the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Élysées, the Boulevard Haussmann, the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens, and the Place Vendôme look like stage sets for Les Misérables. At the same time, across France, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper has reported that “more than 75,000 gilets jaunes demonstrated in cities or blocked roads and toll booths, some briefly stormed the runway of Nantes airport and others blocked supermarkets and major motorway junctions or staged barricades near government buildings. There were 580 roadblocks across the country.”
At the time of writing this story is front page on Canada’s National Post newspaper and the comments that have poured in are wide-ranging and hard-hitting: partisan politics in Canada and the US, populism vs elitism, ‘climate change’ and environmentalism, diesel vs gasoline, …all the way to reflecting on the history of the French revolution and its effect on social upheaval in the west generally. Clearly the Macron government’s carbon tax and its aftermath is of interest to Canadian newshounds and ‘pundits.’