The Yellow Vest protests that have roiled France over the past few months have not tapered down, despite French President Emmanuel Macron putting a kibosh on the wildly unpopular gas tax. Not only have the protests continued despite this reversal, their intensity has actually increased since the New Year. According to the New York Times on Saturday, violence and civil unrest became a feature of the most recent Yellow Vest protest.
They report that for the first time in 20 years, protesters have successfully attacked a government building. “Chief government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, told French television that Yellow Vest protesters and “men dressed in black” — the so-called casseurs, or “breakers,” who have latched onto the movement — commandeered a construction vehicle and broke down the door of the Left Bank building. They then entered a courtyard and broke several windows.”
This violence comes on the heels of a failed gas tax in France that beget the “Yellow Vest” movement, a protest composed of working class French citizens on both sides of the political spectrum that would be severely impacted by the increase on gas prices. While the protest began to express disapproval of the gas tax, it is now a wider movement opposing the Macron government. According to an Ifop-Fiducia poll conducted in December, Macron’s approval ratings have hovered in the low 20’s since the gas tax protests took off in November.
This puts the President in the same league as his wildly unpopular predecessor, Francois Hollande, who’s approval ratings dipped to single digits before leaving office. As recently as late September, many in the Western media believed that President Macron was potentially suited to be the new leader of the free world, as they believe that US president Donald Trump, who’s approval ratings are roughly 2x better than Macron’s, is ill suited to hold the title.