Calls for ”Act four’ by the Yellow Vest in Paris, this Saturday’s protests are dut to be the biggest so far. Five days after the worst rioting central Paris has seen since 1968, all signs are that the government has failed to quell the revolt.
The French government has been trying all week to strike a deal with the ‘Yellow vests’ hinted at more concessions to ‘yellow vest’ protesters on Thursday in a bid to head off another wave of violence in the capital over living costs and regain the initiative after weeks of civil unrest.
Their demands are diverse and include lower taxes, higher salaries, cheaper energy costs, better retirement provisions and even Macron’s resignation.
With protesters calling on social media for “Act IV” – the fourth weekend of protest – Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said 65,000 police would be drafted in to stop a repeat of last Saturday’s mayhem in Paris when rioters torched cars and looted shops off the famed Champs Elysees boulevard.
Philippe told the Senate he was open to new measures to help the lowest-paid workers. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he was prepared to accelerate tax cuts for households and that he wanted workers’ bonuses to be tax-free.
A repeat of last Saturday’s violence in Paris’ city centre — which saw rioters deface the Arc de Triomphe with anti-Macron graffiti — would deal a blow to the economy and raise doubts over the government’s survival.
The government would do all it could to maintain order. At least four first division football matches have been cancelled and several museums including Paris’ Grand Palais said they would close.
The protests, named after the fluorescent safety jackets French motorists have to keep in their cars, erupted in November over the squeeze on household budgets caused by fuel taxes. Demonstrations swiftly grew into a broad, sometimes-violent rebellion against Macron, with no formal leader.
The local government authority on Thursday told restaurants and luxury boutiques along the Champs Elysees boulevard to close on Saturday and asked local Paris authorities to prepare their districts for violence.
Following on from last weeks protest, where more than 200 people were arrested by the police, the Yellow Vests have started mobilizing gain, on Facebook and across social media, protesters are calling for “Act IV”.
“France is fed up!! We will be there in bigger numbers, stronger, standing up for French people. Meet in Paris on Dec. 8,” read one group’s banner.
Security sources said the government was considering using troops currently deployed on anti-terrorism patrols to protect public buildings.