Discrediting the Yellow vests: why Macron will not resign so easily

Discrediting the Yellow vests: why Macron will not resign so easily

In France, on Saturday, March 23, the Yellow Vests held another demonstration – Act XIX. According to the French Ministry of Internal Affairs, at least 40,500 people protested across France (5000 of them in Paris). Clashes with the police occurred in Nice, Lyon, Toulouse, Montpellier and Paris.

After a strong confrontation last week during the Act XVIII, the police prefecture banned actions at the Champs Elysees, the city center was filled with armored personnel carriers and water cannons. This time, a peaceful march passed through other districts of the capital. The column moved from south to north, chanting “Macron resign”(Macron demission).

Garbage cans were burned and the windows of a bank were broken. About 233 participants were detained.

Last Saturday, during Act XVIII, elite boutiques and restaurants became the targets of people’s anger. The legendary restaurant Le Fouquet’s, which, on the one hand, is the “calling card” of the center of Paris, and on the other has become associated with the “nouveau riche,” inaccessible to ordinary people. At one time, Nicolas Sarkozy upset many French citizens by celebrating his victory in the elections at Le Fouquet’s – the French people expected more modesty.

Demonstrations also took place in other cities, including Nice, where tension between the protesters and the police came to a head. Dozens of protesters took Garibaldi square in spite of the ban.

Macron Strategy

Does Macron have any kind of strategy? Is what is happening on the streets the result of the stupidity of the French president, or going according to plan?

Macron’s first mistake was to be silent and ignore the people’s discontent. Macron was so carried away by the creation of his image as a Jupiter figure in the international arena, that he began to arouse laughter and irritation among the people at home (even more than Francois Hollande had, a completely passive and uninteresting politician).

Macron’s second mistake was to add fuel to the fire and introduce taxes painful for car owners (to be a car owner in France does not signify wealth – it generally means a person lives far from the city center because it is too expensive and has to commute).

His third mistake was being stubborn and not meeting the protesters.

His fourth mistake is employing aggressive police tactics against the Yellow vests, such as tear gas, armored vehicles, rubber bullets, etc.

Then, at some point, the errors ended. Macron decided to change the strategy of indifference and “Jupiterism” and instead discredit the Yellow vests by presenting them in the media as:

– “loafers”

– “radicals”

– “state destroyers”

– “anti-Semites” (the protests coincided with vandalism at the Jewish cemetery in Katzenheim, Alzas).

In accordance with the new strategy, French authorities initiated a laissez-faire approach – allowing people let off steam, break shop windows and set cars on fire, and then accuse them of radicalism and destruction of the state. The next step was to enact laws “to prevent radicalism” (Such as banning the protests, such as they did in Paris on March 23).

Macron’s Electorate: Long-term Perspective

Can we see Macron’s actions not a mistake, but a strategy? The main electorate of Macron, oddly enough, is not the youth inspired by his technocracy, but the elderly and fairly wealthy French. They have enough money to visit Le Fouquet’s restaurant, enjoy the Champs Elysees and pay triple for gasoline. They have a good pension, and there is no reason to go out and protest.

In addition, older people are much more easily amenable to television brainwashing. When 24 hours a day on state television Yellow Vests are called radicals, “state destroyers” and idlers, this category of people is prone to believe the propaganda. In the long run, this category of elderly wealthy people, who traditionally vote more actively than young people, will give their vote to Macron, perceiving him as a “guardian of order and property”. In reality, it is using the rhetoric of “dangerous radicals” and protection of capitalism. A war of interpretation is now taking place – as the song goes, between Les Gentils and Les Méchants.


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June 2024