French President Emmanuel Macron will hold an emergency meeting of senior ministers on Sunday following the worst unrest Paris has seen in decades on Saturday.
spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told France's Europe 1 radio
that a state of emergency may be imposed to
prevent "serious outbursts of violence"
after thousands of masked "Yellow Vest" protesters fought
with police, and set fires to cars, houses and banks in
the worst disturbances France's capital has seen since 1968, when
Macron's wife was fifteen - the same age the French president
was when they met.
Griveaux had indicated
the Macron administration was considering imposing a state of
president was open to dialogue, he said, but would not reverse policy
“We won’t change
course. We are certain of that,” he told Europe 1 radio. -Reuters
Saturday riot police were overwhelmed as protesters embarked on their
destructive crime spree. Macron, meanwhile, denied
that a state of emergency had been disccussed.
French presidential source said Macron would not speak to the nation
on Sunday despite calls for him to offer immediate concessions to
demonstrators, and said the idea of imposing a state of emergency had
not been discussed.
Arriving back from the
G20 summit in Argentina, Macron
had earlier rushed to the Arc de Triomphe, a revered monument and
epicenter of Saturday’s clashes, where protesters had scrawled
“Macron resign” and “The yellow vests will triumph”.
Macron ordered his interior minister on Sunday to hold talks
with political leaders and demonstrators, according to Reuters.
said that around 1,000 and 1,500 protesters joined Saturday's
demonstrations "only to fight with the police, to break and
loot," and that the violent element "have nothing to do
with the yellow vests" (aside from wearing yellow vests?).
on Saturday were filmed destroing a police van and other vehicles,
while other videos showed burning cars and police firing some 10,000
tear gas canisters as well as stun grenades to break up the
Macron says the fuel
hikes are necessary to
combat climate change -
a move which has tappped into the deep dissatisfaction toward his
many liberal reforms which many French voters feel favor big business
and the wealthy.
plight illustrates a conundrum: How do political leaders’ introduce
policies that will do long-term good for the environment without
inflicting extra costs on voters that may damage their chances of
unyielding response has exposed him to charges of being out of touch
with common folk outside of France’s big cities who worry about the
squeeze on household budgets and job security.
protests have driven Macron’s popularity to record lows and left
him facing a lose-lose situation, said Gael Sliman, president of the
Odoxa polling institute said. -Reuters
Sliman notes, Macron can either cave to the protesters and face
criticism by his opponents, or he can put down the dissent by force.
"In the second scenario, Macron will still come out loser,
because what everyone will remember is that he wrestled with the
popular classes. He would be victorious, but at the cost of having
crushed them," Sliman said.
was flanked by heavy security on Champs Elysees boulevard before
heading into Sunday's meeting, as bystanders both cheered and jeered
him - with many calling for his resignation.
So too did Jean-Luc
Melenchon, head of hard-left party La France Insoumise (France
Unbowed) and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who
both demanded the government unwind its fuel tax hikes.
They called for parliament to be dissolved and snap elections held.
Such an outcome is
unlikely, however. Macron
has 3 1/2 years left of his five-year mandate and a strong majority
albeit with signs of simmering unease on the backbenches over his
response to the protests. -Reuters
reported size of the protest has varied between 36,000 and 75,000
yellow vests, while last week saw over 110,000 protesters at
the Champs-Elysées in central Paris. Over 400 arrests were made
and 113 injured in Saturday's unrest which began on November 17 over
a hike in diesel taxes, but has grown
to a general protest of Macron and his government. Macron's
popularity rating has plummeted to just 26%, while opinion polls for
the 2019 parliament elections predict that right-wing Marine Le Pen's
National Rally party will be level - or
from Macron's La République En Marche.
"The violence is
increasing at an exponential rate," said Claude, a resident
in the affluent 16th district according to Reuters.
"The state is losing control, it is scary. They cannot let this
happen. Maybe the army should intervene."