Nov 24th, 2018, 12:16 PM

Gilets Jaunes Protests, Act II?

By Annelyse Gaston-Carrere
gilets jaunes
"Worker=money pump". Image credit: Emmanuelle Baudry/Flickr
After blocking all of France on Saturday 17 November 2018, the gilets jaunes, or yellow vests, plan to have another big day of protests in Paris this coming Saturday, 24 November 2018. 

No matter where you were in France last Saturday 17 November, you must have seen or heard of the big protests that occurred that day and that blocked all of the French highways and cities. You could not have missed them. These people had flashy yellow vests, hence the name of the people protesting: gilets jaunes, or yellow vests. But who are the gilets jaunes and why are they blocking the roads and cities?

Who are the gilets jaunes?

Facebook pages were created over the past few months in the name of gilets jaunes and asked for people to join and protest against the tax increase of gasoline. This increase touches a large population and led them to join the Facebook page. From that, each region in France managed to organize massive protests last Saturday. 

Gilets jaunes protesting. Image credit: François Farlet/Flickr. 

More specifically, a study was done to see who exactly came to these protests. It was found that the many were over 35-years-old and retired men and women. However, there was a large amount of young people (65%) that have joined the protests as they feel personally involved in this conflict. Also, people protesting hold lower paying of jobs rather than higher paying types such as lawyer or business managers. They felt like Emmanuel Macron was playing with them and their money by taking a significant portion through taxes. People had nothing left to live off of once taxes passed. This was one of the first protests to be so large and to touch so many people in some time.

Many people compared the gilets jaunes group to the bonnets rouges group. In 2013, thirty company executives in Brittany decided to protest against the increase of the environmental tax. The bonnets rouges had distinct leaders directing the protests and they had a political goal to their protests. The gilets jaunes are a bit more different. As political scientist Frédéric Dabi said, the group is the result of massive discontent from the French on their purchasing power. This is impressive to most analysts because it is one of the first time in France that a protest group has significant amounts of participants from a Facebook page launched with no leader to control the situation. 

So who are the gilets jaunes? Simply French people who are tired of paying almost all of their salaries in taxes. 

Yellow vest. Image credit: Ludovic/Flickr

Macron's reaction 

Emmanuel Macron and his team underestimated the impact the gilets jaunes would have. After the protests of last Saturday, the government held its position of maintaining the increase of the tax. On Thursday 22 November, Macron said that he would announce a new cap for the ecological transition next Tuesday 27 November. He would assure it would be an "acceptable" and "democratic" transition which would solve the problems and issues brought up by the gilets jaunes. 

Regarding the tax, it will be maintained but the ecological transition changes will allow for better transport outside of big cities, solve the money issues while staying climate conscious. 

Gilets jaunes, act II?

The gilets jaunes are meeting up again to protest in France's capital today, Saturday 24 November. The initial plan was to protest at famous places in Paris. These were initially place de la Concorde and the Champs-Elysées. However, the Minister of Interior claimed that it would not be safe enough for the protestors to go to Place de la Concorde because it is too close to the Elysée. The government proposed TO and allowed the protestors to go to the Champs de Mars but the gilets jaunes rejected that offer.

After the back and forth, Priscillia Ludosky, one of the founders of the petition for the gilets jaunes of Paris, confirmed that the protests would take place at the heart of Paris.

The government is extremely worried as the protesting group does not seem to want to back up its location for the protest. Thus, security will be heightened in the Elysée area and Place de la Concorde to prevent any protests from occurring there. Other protests are planned later in the afternoon. Avoid the popular spots of Paris if you don't want to fall into the protest.  

Gilets jaunes stopping cars on highways. Image credit: Piriac_/Flickr