On February 9th, the Yellow Vest protests throughout France took place for the 13th week in a row.
According to official numbers, 51,400 attended the protests, while the number was 69,000 just two weeks earlier. This is still a significant decrease from the first protest on November 17th that had 282,000 out on the streets.
The protests initially began as a response to a government decision to impose annual increases to diesel and carbon taxes, but have since evolved into a broader protests demanding French President Emmanuel Macron’s resignation and against his government as a whole. People also protest the high costs of living in France and the widespread economic uncertainty.
The protests are facing an issue. The Yellow Vest movement lacks a clear structure and leadership, and it is struggling to transform populist anger into real political force.
Priscillia Ludosky and Éric Drouet emerged as early leaders of the movement after creating an “official” Yellow Vest Facebook page and called for the first protests on November 17th.
However, in December the two “leaders” had a falling off, since Drouet took an increasingly hardline. He even suggested storming the Élysée presidential palace. He was arrested in December after organizing an unauthorized protest in Paris, he was also arrested in January for carrying a police baton without authorization.
In January, Ludosky published a statement announcing that she would no longer be working with Drouet, who she accused of “harming” the movement.
“We decided to go our separate ways,” Drouet later said in a video posted online. “We can’t always be in agreement on what to do, and how to do it.”
One of the closest individuals to a leader since then has been Maxime Nicollem a 31-year-old, who also who also goes by the alias Fly Rider, rose to national prominence after appearing as a guest on several popular French television shows. He made a bid to become the movement’s official spokesman in early December.
“I would not decide anything, I would just give voice to what you decide,” Nicolle told Yellow Vests supporters on Facebook Live.
The other leadership figure is Jacline Mouraud, 51, who rose to fame after a video she posted online criticizing Macron’s government.
OÙ VA LA FRANCE ? Parce qu il y en a marre et que se taire, c est se rendre complice. Faites chacun votre petit mot au président !
Posted by Jacline Mouraud on Thursday, October 18, 2018
However, she was criticized by Yellow Vest protesters that she is using the movement as a platform to launch her own political party.
In January, the Yellow Vest movement’s Facebook page posted a number of demands, including direct talks with the government, lower taxes and social charges, and the introduction of a citizens’ initiative referendum.
Mourad called for a “major overhaul” of the French constitution, including an amendment guaranteeing men and women equal pay. She also proposed combining the roles of president and prime minister.
“There’s one person too many at the head of the executive branch,” she told AFP in a statement. “This duality can be a source of conflict, even instability.”
In late January, Ingrid Levavasseur, 31 in an interview published in French newspaper Le Figaro, said that she intends to lead a list of Yellow Vest candidates in the May vote.
“The European elections are the first opportunity we’ve been presented with, so here we go,” further saying that France “needs Europe, the European Union.”
Meanwhile, in early January, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced plans to ban participation in unauthorized demonstrations.
He said the government would back a “new law punishing those who do not respect the requirement to declare [protests], those who take part in unauthorised demonstrations and those who arrive at demonstrations wearing face masks.”
He also announced plans to ban “troublemakers” known to the authorities from taking part in demonstrations, in the same way known football hooligans in the past had been banned from stadiums.
“That measure worked well,” he said, regarding the stadium ban.
In future, Philippe said, the onus would be on “the troublemakers, and not taxpayers, to pay for the damage caused” to businesses and property during the protests.
So far in the protests, there had been 10 deaths, with the latest one happening during the December 22nd demonstration. By late December, over 1,843 protesters and 1,048 police had been injured.
As of 14 January, 94 had been seriously injured.
After all, a discrepancy and a sort of double standard can be seem, as French protesters going to the streets to protest a government allied to the US and MSM are presented as “bad,” while protesters demonstrating against the elected government in Venezuela are “good” by design. Simply because the government is not aligned with the Western narrative.
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