France mulls wealth tax changes as protests intensify

Cheryl Sanders
December 6, 2018

She said the farmers were not officially joining the "yellow vests", a grassroots uprising which has shunned alignments with political parties or labour unions.

The protests began last month with motorists upset over the fuel tax hike, but have grown to encompass a range of complaints, with protesters claiming that Macron's government doesn't care about the problems of ordinary people.

Experts say the government may have reacted too late to the street protests, a regular feature of French political life which have repeatedly forced Macron's predecessors into U-turns.

Though the situation in France is complicated, one thing seems clear.

On Tuesday, the government agreed to suspend the fuel tax rise for six months.

While understanding that the nation wants taxes to be lowered, Phillipe cautioned that such a move would result in fewer benefits for French citizens.

On Tuesday, Philippe announced a freeze in electricity and natural gas prices until May 2019, and warned protesters against more disruptions. On Tuesday night, the young leader was booed and jeered as he traveled to a regional government headquarters that was torched by protesters last weekend.

Negotiating with the protesters, named for wearing high-visibility yellow vests "gilets jaunes" has been hard for the government as the leaderless activists are spread throughout rural and urban France and include people with grievances beyond objections to the fuel duty.

Chalencon, a 52-year-old blacksmith, said the public needed Macron to "admit he made a mistake, with simple words. that touch the guts and heart of the French". "They want social justice", Thierry Paul Valette, a Paris protest coordinator, told Al Jazeera.

"It's coming too late".

"It's delayed, but there must not be any retreat by the government", Lambert said. Environment Minister Francois de Rugy confirmed in a TV interview that the fuel tax due on January 1 was "scrapped for the year 2019" in its entirety. Prime Minister Phillipe's approval was 34 percent, according to the new poll. "It's a change of course". Macron's move was "on the right path but, in my opinion, it will not fundamentally change the movement", she said.

"The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters".

Macron has said he will "never accept violence".

"We have reasons to fear major violence", a source in the Elysee Palace told AFP amid calls for fresh mobilisation of the "yellow vests" movement already linked to four deaths and hundreds of injuries in often violent demonstrations.

Numerous demonstrations were over a new university application system.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen tweeted that the delay in price rises was "obviously not up to the expectations of the French people struggling with precariousness", and noted sarcastically that it is "surely a coincidence" that the price hikes will now come into effect a few days after European Union elections.

Some 9 million students, blue-collar workers and civil servants took to the streets.

Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said that among the protesters were people from across the country who had descended upon Paris with the express intent of causing trouble. The National Assembly was dissolved and general elections were called. Prime Minister, is not a postponement.

His attitude - "I stick to my guns" -aggravated the stand-off as Parisians walked and hitchhiked to work, travel plans were wrecked and public anger intensified - peacefully.

One student was injured during protests at a high school in Saint-Jean-de-Braye in north-central France. The Sorbonne was among the institutions occupied.

The farmers' grievances include financial charges on their operations, the head of the main agricultural union said.

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