Macron Says Yellow Vests Protests Aren't Comprehensible Any More

(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that grassroots Yellow Vests protests are no longer comprehensible and that “the country needs a return to calm.”

“I hope that the weeks to come will show a decline” in the Yellow Vests movement, Macron said in Bordeaux. He spoke during a session that was part of a series of national public debates he set up to help address the protests, which have disrupted the country’s economy and politics since mid-November.

Some Yellow Vests members plan to stage new protests Saturday in Paris and elsewhere for the 16th week in a row.

Macron has ruled out banning protests or declaring a state of emergency, even though the protests have regularly degenerated into evening riots and some downtown areas have been ransacked by radical activists.

Gas Tax Protest

The movement began as a protest against higher gasoline taxes. It has since morphed to include a series of disparate grievances against higher taxes, falling purchasing power and deteriorating public services, among others.

In response, Macron has so far announced 10 billion euros of budget giveaways, including a boost to the minimum wage, and in January launched the series of debates at which he made today’s comments.

More than 75 percent of French people initially supported the Yellow Vests, according to opinion polls. The repetition of protests, along with the violence, has made the movement less popular, with a majority of French now supporting an end to it.

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