France's 2018 Yellow Vest Protests

France's 2018 Yellow Vest Protests

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France's 2018 Yellow Vest Protests (also known as "Mouvement des Gilets Jaunes" in French) refers to an ongoing series of political actions in France, beginning in November 2018. Forming on French social media as a protest against the rise of the fuel taxes decided by the government of President Emmanuel Macron, the movement later escalated into a wider range of claims stemming from all parts of the political spectrum, including income and wealth inequality, stagnant wage and public spendings in hospitals and education. The movement takes its name from the fluorescent yellow high-visibility safety vests that are mandatory for car drivers in many European countries. Some of those protests escalated into violence in early December 2018, most notably in the french cities of Paris and Marseille.


On October 18th, 2018, Facebook user Jacline Mouraud posted a video on the site, relaying a list of grievances with President Macron's policies. Among them, she highlights the increasing diesel fuel tax, which hurt working class citizens most of all (shown below, left). Within two months, the video has received more than 45,000 reactions, 10,000 comments, 242,000 shares and 6 million views (shown below).[5] Marcline is largely considered the "founder" of the Yellow Vest movement.[7]

About one week later, on October 25th, Mouraud posted another video calling for a nationwide protest on November 17th, 2018 (shown below, right). The video received more than 4,800 reactions, 1,200 comments, 9,800 shares and 260,000 views.[6]

On November 17th, 2018, the first Yellow Vest protest is held in more than 2,000 locations around France. The protest featured an estimated 240,000 people blocking roads throughout the country. More than 225 people were injured and one was killed in the protests. Additionally, more than 100 people were detained by police and more than 70 were taken into custody. The protests were specifically in reaction to Macron's proposed diesel and petrol taxes to combat climate change, which they believe targets working class citizens, rather than large corporations that make up a majority of carbon emissions.[8]

Notable Developments

Jean Lassalle Wearing Yellow Vest in the National Assembly

On November 21st, 2018, during a public session in the National Assembly, Parliament Member and former presidential candidate Jean Lassalle started an unrest movement in the assembly by putting on the infamous yellow vest during a speech of the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner[2] (video shown below) In reaction, President of the Assembly Richard Ferrand immediately suspended the session and later announced that Mr. Lassalle would be condemned to a 1500€ fine for breaking the behavior code of the assembly and troubling the parliamentary debates.[3]

During the following days, the event became widely parodied on the french social media, due to the online popularity of Mr Lassalle, which started during his presidential campaign, and most notably on various french satirical political groups such as La France Insoumeme. [4]

4eme circonscription des Pyrénées , atlantiques To VOte ? give me siege lassemblée to vote Pas Sten Actually wears gilet jaune like a boss Yeeees rbloauade assemblée snationale tim Les gilets jaunes ne sont que des faineants à la botte de lestreme droite Ils ne servent à rien à par emmerder c travaillent réellement WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT ouR CHAINS SIR PLS ㄟ C P 37 NOTALL HEROES WEAR CAPES 23 224 SOME WEAR GILET JAUNE

Champs-Elysées Protests

On November 24th, a second weekend of demonstrations took place at Champe-Elysees in Paris. Thousands of protestors joined in the action.

The following week, on December 1st, another protest in Paris at the Arc de Triomphe. More than 136,000 people demonstrated on this day. Three days later, on December 4th, the tax increases, schedule to go into effect on January 1st, 2019, were suspended for six months. This suspension is rejected protestors who plan for another day of demonstrations.

On December 5th, Macron announces that the fuel tax will not happen, but he refuses to impose a tax on the wealthy, one of the protestors' demands.

On December 9th, protests turned violent as Yellow Vest protestors began destroying private property in Paris, France. Protestors attacked car and smashed windows as they called for Macron's resignation.[9]

Emmanuel Macron's TV speech

On December 10th, President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation in a Telivised speech, held simultaneously on TV and on his personal social media accounts, including his Youtube channel[12] (shown below). During the speech, he publicly denounced the violence of the protests, before announcing various reforms, including a 100€ raise of the minimum wage or various tax cuts on overtime pay.

The speech became widely commented on the french social media, where the related hashtag #macron20h reached the top of the twitter trends in France during the evening.[13] The even was however poorly recieved by many observers, including most of the protesters, who deemed the various promises as insufficient to solve the crisis.[14] For instance, many noticed that the President never addressed the issue of public spendings, refused to reinstate the taxes on high wealth, and that the 100€ raise would only concern a minority of minimum wage workers.[15]

Additionally, several social media users started to notice a peculiar screenshot of the speech, in which Macron can be seen doing an awkward pose with his hands on his desk, and in which many saw some similarities with Mark Zuckerberg's congressionnal hearings. The screenshot spawned various parodies in which users added various captions describing awkward situations.[16]

Blanchart Andy @AndyBlanchart Suivre Quand tu attends une manucure #macron20h LE20H TFI Le Dz * Suivrev @NarskoBeats Quand tu ment sur ton CV et que t'arrive à l'entretient d'embauche #macron20h

Pierre Senamaud @pierrodelavegaa Suivre Quand t'es déchiré à 2h du mat et que tu dois paraître sobre devant le videur de la boîte #macron20h LE20H TFI LEDOPHINE Le président français remplacé par un robot humanoïde

Online Reaction

Much of the protests have been coordinated through Facebook groups. One of the most popular Yellow Vest protests groups includes "COMPTEUR OFFICIEL DE GILETS JAUNES." The group has more than 1.7 million members.[11]

s non-inscrits voient 800.000 les inscits voint 2 700,000 COMBEN SOMMESNOUS DE LIBERTE EGALITE FRATERNITE GILETSURUNES Padistes mais Resisants

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