Can Macron's speech appease the yellow vests?
After ten days of silence on the sometimes violent protests of the yellow vest movement, French President Emmanuel Macron has announced further concessions in a televised speech. The monthly minimum wage is to be increased by 100 euros and citizens are to have more say in policy decisions. Journalists see Macron as having adopted the right tone in his speech but aren't sure this will be enough.
Jupiter back to down to earth with a bump
Macron has made a clear display of his repentance, Rzeczpospolita surmises:
“The president's speech was meant to signal a change of style. Macron may not have apologised but at least he has admitted that many of the things he has said may have hurt his fellow countrymen and that he has paid too little attention to those who are having a hard time making ends meet. The meeting with the French mayors is meant to change this now. Jupiter, as the French have dubbed Macron because of his arrogant style of government, has come back down to earth. But whether this will be enough to save his presidency isn't so clear yet.”
Macron cleansed by fire?
France's president is only now discovering what the French are really like, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes poking fun at the young leader:
“Macron's speech comes across as measured, technocratic and uncontrived; that corresponds to his temperament. But he says something astounding: 'The good solutions will come from the countryside.' France has been too centralised for decades, he said. This from the president who always tried to impose his reforms from above, who seemed resistant to advice, who liked to convey the impression that he alone, high up on his Mount Olympus, knew what was good for the country. Should we believe that Macron has really changed? It can't be ruled out that the events and turmoil of the last few weeks have given him new insights. We'll see.”
France's democracy hanging in the balance
Le Figaro hopes the protests will now die down:
“After the government's backtracking on the fuel tax hike will the 'new contract for the nation' proposed by Emmanuel Macron persuade the insurgents to store their yellow jackets in the glovebox? Their doggedness has already foiled too many predictions for one to hazard a guess, but we can always hope. Reason dictates this, as does the national interest. It's no longer a question of Emmanuel Macron's political future, or even of his ability to carry through his reforms (as things now stand it's to be feared that this ability has suffered a serious blow). What's at stake today in our streets and on our motorways is our democratic future.”
The most difficult part yet to come
Great responsibility weighs on the president's shoulders, writes La Vanguardia:
“Macron proposed an ambitious pact yesterday: conciliatory measures and the opening of a broad dialogue with representatives from all the social, economic and political groups in order to end the protests, the negative effects of which have already alarmed sectors like retail and the hotel industry. ... And not just that, now France has added to the instability which is rocking Europe as a result of the Brexit, the start of the end of the Merkel era, Italy's provocative stance vis à-vis the EU and the rise of extremist movements. ... Macron's major challenge now is to provide answers to the discontent of the middle classes by creating jobs without increasing the fiscal burden on companies or losing control of the deficit. This challenge awaits him once the storm passes.”