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Tue, 12 Nov 2019 23:05 GMT

Long Awaited Macron Speech on Containing 'Yellow Vest' Fury


7Dnews London

Mon, 15 Apr 2019 09:10 GMT

France is awaiting an announcement by President Emanuel Macron on Monday April 15th that will include a series of policy changes inspired by two months of public consultations triggered by the "yellow vest" revolt.

Macron will make a televised speech at 1800 GMT setting out the "first concrete measures" to be taken in response to the "concerns raised" at over 10,000 debates held around the country as well as the nearly two million contributions made online, the presidency told AFP.

Although the French leader has avoided press conferences since 2017, he will give one to discuss his policy adjustment. Macron has already met with Premier Edouard Philippe and cabinet ministers to tweak his announcements, according to one of the president's aides who noted that the country could look forward to "a new act" in the centrist's presidency.

Macron launched his "Grand National Debate" on January 15th to try to end the biggest crisis of his presidency.

In mid-November, demonstrators furious over rising fuel taxes and inequality began occupying roundabouts in rural France, kickstarting a movement that quickly snowballed into a full-scale anti-Macron revolt.

Every Saturday, over the past five months, tens of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Paris and other cities to protest policies they see as skewed towards the rich and big business.

The protests have regularly ended in rioting and destruction of property, with some of the worst violence seeing the Arc de Triomphe war memorial in Paris sacked on December 1st and several businesses on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue looted on two separate occasions.

By launching a major voter listening exercise, former investment banker Macron sought to take the heat out of the protests. 

But the task of trying to satisfy all the grievances aired will be a tricky one.

"He won't get a second chance," Senate leader Gerard Larcher, a member of the opposition Republicans, warned in an interview with Le Figaro newspaper on Saturday. 

In participation terms, the debate was largely seen as a success.

Between January 15th and March 15th, nearly 500,000 people took part in 10,134 meetings in community halls across the country, with hundreds of thousands more filling out questionnaires or offering up unprompted suggestions on a government website.