Macron cedes to pressure from the yellow vests

After a crisis meeting between President Macron and his government the tax hike on fuel is off the table for the time being. Prime Minister Philippe said on Tuesday that the "unity of the fatherland" must not be endangered. The yellow vests have nevertheless announced that they will once again take to the streets this weekend. What impact will the government's concessions have?

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Libération (FR) /

Pandora's box has been opened

Putting off the tax hike won't appease the protesters, Libération believes:

“Ten days ago the measures now announced would have stopped the protests. But social movements change the people who take part in them. In the past they often faced their difficulties alone, trapped in a feeling of abandonment and humiliation. Now they've had a taste of the euphoria of collective action, the comfort of solidarity and mutual recognition, the rare pleasure of massive media attention and the pride of finally playing a role in national politics. It's difficult to end such a beautiful moment - because whatever else happens it will remain one of the best memories of their lives. ... The presumptuous arrogance of those in power has opened Pandora's box.”

Wedomosti (RU) /

The spirits invoked by the president

The government has realised that French society faces the threat of deep division, Vedomosti writes:

“Macron and his cohorts have fallen victim to the same anti-elitist wave on which they themselves rode in the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2017. But now voters don't want to pay the price for the reforms the president wants to push through. ... Tax hikes 'for all' shortly after the tax on top earners was abolished have seriously injured people's sense of justice. Ultimately the protest of the yellow vests is a protest of the poorer provinces and lower middle classes - for whom cars are so important - against the rich from the big cities. The state power has now belatedly heeded the protesters' message and declared that no tax should endanger national unity.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Don't buckle now

The president must see his reform programme through, The Irish Times stresses:

“To survive he must emerge from this challenge with his strategy intact, rather than bowing like his predecessors François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy to the characteristically French cycle of protest against change. … He can make concessions on taxation to rebalance social inequalities. And he can still draw on the remarkable eloquence he has displayed throughout his political career. He cannot afford to change the fundamental thrust of his reform strategy, including his commitment to give France a leading role in tackling climate change by taxing carbon fuels.”

Contrepoints (FR) /

France's crisis is a result of laziness

The French themselves are to blame for high fuel prices, economist Hector Allain writes in Contrepoints:

“The current crisis is above all due to outdated ways of thinking. And that's why it threatens to continue. Which politician will have the courage to say it? You don't create wealth - or buying power - by watching football on TV. The crisis in France is about laziness. Sixty-four percent of people aged between 15 and 64 in our country work, compared with 79 percent in Switzerland and 75 percent in the UK and Germany. ... Very concretely: petrol and food cost more in France because we compete for these goods with countries that work more than we do.”