France: the "yellow vests" are three years old and the seeds of the movement are still there

It was three years ago.

“Yellow vests” block a fuel depot in Frontignan on December 3, 2018 (image illustration).


Text by: RFI Follow

3 min

Three years ago, tens of thousands of demonstrators dressed in yellow vests mobilized across France to demonstrate against a rise in fuel taxes.

This November 17 marks the beginning of a movement which brought together, for months on roundabouts and in demonstrations, those called "yellow vests".


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It was three years ago, in the first cold of November, emaciated face, determined gaze, Rémi, hospital service agent and "yellow vest" delivered a testimony with sincerity: " 

We work, we work. But at the end of the month we have nothing. When you have 1,100 euros, you pay for car insurance, you pay your rent, water, electricity, gas. What do you have left at the end of the month? Nothing. On the 15th, we die of hunger.


The “

 yellow vests

” movement

 surprised France and made the government back down on the issue of carbon tax and the price of energy.

Emmanuelle Reungoat is a political science researcher at the University of Montpellier, she talks about her origins at the microphone of

Laurence Théault


of the France service of RFI


It is a movement that focused on purchasing power in its early days, because it is an important issue for many"

 yellow vests ", she explains


That said, what we saw in our investigations is that the movement was much larger than that.

That is to say that there is also a whole part which was not affected by precariousness.


Working class and middle classes 

The researcher insists on the exploded sociology of "yellow vests", which has not only affected the most precarious. "

 It is a movement of the working class, of the middle class.

And we also saw that we did not have quite the same populations on the roundabouts, in the demonstrations, according to the directory.

The movement was relatively representative of a large part of the French population

, ”she said.

►Also listen: Xavier Renou (yellow vest): "Our return was missed, but the deep reasons persist"

Emmanuelle Reungoat notes that the reasons for the discontent of the “yellow vests” “ 

have not changed 

” for three years.

For her, the "yellow vests" who have trouble finishing the month still have the same economic difficulties on a daily basis,


even if sometimes the movement has been able to set up networks of solidarity and mutual aid


It's not public policies that have changed.

And even if it is an overall movement of workers or employees, the reform of Pôle Emploi, unemployment insurance will not go in that direction.


The question of feeling of indivisibility or social contempt,

" has not changed

 , "says the researcher.

Towards a return to mobilization?

The mobilization lasted a very long time, but it ended up weakening. So, can the movement resume? “ 

I think he won't pick up in the same form if he picks up. That said, the reasons for dissatisfaction are always the same

, believes Emmanuelle Reungoat. 

This movement created networks between people. Even the people who disengaged, there were networks of sociability, of acquaintances between people who did not know each other and from very different political backgrounds. These are the things that remain. These are networks that can potentially be re-mobilized, especially friendly networks and social networks. From there to saying that the movement will resume and in what form… that, very clever who can say it


In total, the “yellow vests” movement mobilized nearly three million people at the end of 2018 and early 2019.


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