23 weekends straight now. While the world focused on the tragedy that was Notre Dame, the yellow vest protests continue. Many cars and motorcycles around Paris were set alight.
The yellow vests see Macron’s (unsurprising) immediate call to rebuild the historic landmark yet another slap in the face. The French president continues to ignore their grievances. The yellow vests feel that unemployment, the rise in the cost of living and higher taxation are burying them. They want the same priority shown to them as the 850yo cathedral.
A recap of the grounds of protest:
- A constitutional cap on taxes – at 25%
- Increase of 40% in the basic pension and social welfare
- Increase hiring in public sector to re-establish public services
- Massive construction projects to house 5 million homeless, and severe penalties for mayors/prefectures that leave people on the streets
- Break up the ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks, re-separate regular banking from investment banking
- Cancel debts accrued through usurious rates of interest
- Constitutional amendments to protect the people’s interests, including binding referenda
- The barring of lobby groups and vested interests from political decision-making
- Frexit: Leave the EU to regain our economic, monetary and political sovereignty (In other words, respect the 2005 referendum result, when France voted against the EU Constitution Treaty, which was then renamed the Lisbon Treaty, and the French people ignored)
- Clampdown on tax evasion by the ultra-rich
- The immediate cessation of privatization, and the re-nationalization of public goods like motorways, airports, rail, etc
- Remove all ideology from the ministry of education, ending all destructive education techniques
- Quadruple the budget for law and order and put time-limits on judicial procedures. Make access to the justice system available for all
- Break up media monopolies and end their interference in politics. Make media accessible to citizens and guarantee a plurality of opinions. End editorial propaganda
- Guarantee citizens’ liberty by including in the constitution a complete prohibition on state interference in their decisions concerning education, health and family matters
- No more ‘planned obsolescence’ – Mandate guarantee from producers that their products will last 10 years, and that spare parts will be available during that period
- Ban plastic bottles and other polluting packaging
- Weaken the influence of big pharma on health in general and hospitals in particular
- Ban on GMO crops, carcinogenic pesticides, endocrine disruptors and monocrops
- Re-industrialize France (thereby reducing imports and thus pollution)
- End France’s participation in foreign wars of aggression, and exit from NATO
- Cease pillaging and interfering – politically and militarily – in ‘Francafrique’, which keeps Africa poor. Immediately repatriate all French soldiers. Establish relations with African states on an equal peer-to-peer basis
- Prevent migratory flows that cannot be accommodated or integrated, given the profound civilizational crisis we are experiencing
- Scrupulously respect international law and the treaties we have signed.
Regardless of the need to restore a national monument, Macron has had no impact on restoring order.
Macron’s poll numbers got a bounce from 29% approval to 32% on the back of Notre Dame. He has merely moved from catastrophic to diabolical. Notre Dame is a one off event for Macron. The question is whether they buy his proposed tax cuts for the poor or boosts for small pensions. The yellow vests don’t want platitudes.