It is the ninth weekend in a row: In Paris and other cities in France, many yellow-West protesters gathered again this Saturday for protests. Official numbers did not exist on Saturday at first. TV pictures showed hundreds of people wearing safety vests traveling through Paris or gathering in Bastille Square.
Signs read slogans like "Macron Resignation" or "Stop Police Violence". Also in Bourges in the center of France, according to the prefecture at noon already around 1200 people had gathered. Larger protests were expected after online calls for Saturday.
The police expected nationwide with a similar high participation as before the Christmas days. For December 15, the authorities had given the number of participants with 66,000, which the yellow vests considered much too low.
In French Bourges, even a rooster wore a yellow vest
The protests of the yellow vests have plunged France's President Emmanuel Macron into the worst crisis of his term. Earlier this year, a survey revealed that a large majority of French people are critical of the president's administration. Macron had also canceled his participation in the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday, reason should be the ongoing protests.
Since mid-November, the movement has been demonstrating against the government's social and fiscal policy and against perceived as too low purchasing power. Again and again there were rioting, hundreds of yellow vests and security forces were injured since the beginning.
France's government fears riots and violence again this weekend. Therefore, a large contingent of 80,000 security forces was mobilized, of which 5,000 in the capital alone. The Avenue des Champs-Elysées, the Parisian boulevard, was full of cops.
30 people arrested for "prohibited weapons"
The government also announced tougher laws, which provide for a ban on demonstrators for rioters. In Paris, the police arrested around 30 suspects until Saturday noon. The reason given was that they had carried "prohibited weapons" or participated in a violent group.
Head of state Emmanuel Macron tries to appease the protest movement through a "civil dialogue", which should begin next Tuesday. Citizens should be able to make suggestions for reform. But most demonstrators can not do that much. A yellow-vests wearier from Paris, Albertville in the Savoie department, 34-year-old Charlotte, was just ridiculed for Macron's "Dialogue". "That's Quark, a distraction maneuver," she said. "We do not want to talk anymore, we want action."
Originally, the yellow-vein movement had targeted diesel for high fuel prices and the planned eco-tax. Later, the protest mixed with general discontent about the policy of the government. Their announced billion-dollar concessions, which provide, inter alia, more money for minimum wage earners and relief for pensioners, reject the demonstrators as insufficient. Many call for further tax cuts, referendums based on the Swiss model and Macron's resignation.
more on the subject
Meanwhile, Macron has sparked outrage at the opposition. At a reception of bakers in the Élysées Palace Macron praised on Friday evening, according to media reports, the "sense of the effort". "The difficulties our society faces are sometimes due to the fact that far too many of our fellow citizens think you can get something without making that effort," he added.
Against the background of the ongoing yellow-West protests, the opposition sees in the statements a provocation. Macron indicated that the people on the street were not struggling enough, said the left-wing politician Alexis Corbière in the station BFMTV. The right-wing politician Florian Philippot tweeted, Macron insult his people again. Nurses who were scrapping or the unemployed barely making ends meet-would these people have no sense of exertion? He asked rhetorically.
Already in the past Macron had caused controversial statements for anger. In September, he recommended to an unemployed gardener to change the industry. "Hotels, cafes, restaurants - I walk the street, I find something (to work) for you," said Macron.