French up in arms over petrol prices

Several citizens' initiatives have called on social media for nationwide protests and road blockades on Saturday. The protests have been sparked by the high petrol prices. Angry motorists are donning yellow high-visibility vests as a symbol of resistance. Is the opposition to Macron's policy justified or have the citizens failed to grasp that the reforms are necessary?

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Le Figaro (FR) /

Elites caused the rebellion themselves

A storm of protest is brewing in France, Le Figaro warns:

“The head of state isn't the only target of this new French revolution which opens the first act of an improvised scenario. Macron's egotism has only exacerbated the lack of understanding between the France of the rich and the France of the poor. ... A democratic, popular, girondist revolution is in the works. And even now the leaders aren't really in charge. They'll have to learn to listen to the people. How do you like that! That's what the elites get when they start demonising the populists.”

Le Point (FR) /

People are already feeling the benefits

Macron is doing everything right for the long term with his economic policy, Le Point believes:

“It has to be said that it was only at the beginning of November, when they got their payslips for October, that the French started to feel the full benefits of Macron's economic policy. ... Taxes are going down, albeit slowly. Despite the rise in petrol taxes, by 2022 taxes are set to drop by 10 billion euros for households, and by the same amount for companies. And if everything goes well the national debt will sink by five percentage points at the same time. In other words, without making future generations foot the bill for our purchasing power.”

Libération (FR) /

Greenwashing at the expense of the poor

Raising fuel taxes is the wrong approach, warns Libération:

“Prime Minister Philippe's government underestimated just how fed up people are who have no other choice but to use their cars (and have already been hit by the 80 km/h speed limit). And above all he hasn't kept his promise to make the country greener as a result: according to our calculations only a quarter of the tax revenues are being invested in environmental restructuring schemes. So they're cheating. ... Yes, it's important to reduce our petrol consumption through taxes. But it's not fair if it's those who can least afford it who have to bear the burden. If it doesn't want eco-taxes to become a red rad, the government urgently needs to rethink its policy.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Clean air must take priority over provincial woes

The daily paper Les Echos, by contrast, warns President Macron against letting the protests deter him from raising fuel taxes:

“For this he must face attacks from demagogues who kick up a fuss about the hike in petrol prices without offering anything more than the prospect of continued subsidies for pollution. But head of state Emmanuel Macron is defending a political course of commendable coherence, assuming responsibility for the high price of petrol and offering financial support to motorists willing to trade in their dirty old vehicles for a new, cleaner car. ... It's painful for millions of French citizens, particularly those who live in rural areas who have very few other means of getting to work. But this is the lesser evil.”