What has Macron's grand debate achieved?
France's grand debate has come to an end. President Macron launched the forum in January in reaction to the yellow vest protests. The idea was to start a dialogue with the protesters and seek joint solutions. More than 8,000 discussion rounds were held in cities and villages across the country. Commentators take widely differing views of what the debate has accomplished.
All of France a discussion forum
The "grand débat" worked out surprisingly well, La Croix believes:
“Many people in France are neither blasé nor resigned. They want to formulate their positions and have their voices heard. ... Clearly the older generation participated more than the young. But who would have thought at the beginning of November that France would become a vast discussion forum? Thank you yellow vests, and thank you Emmanuel Macron, one would like to say, for revealing these expectations and letting them be expressed. This confirms that one must not be afraid to let the people have their say.”
The uprising continues
Emmanuel Macron's hopes of appeasing the yellow vests with the grand debate have been dashed with the riots and pillaging on the weekend, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung stresses:
“President Macron and his government must face up to the fact that rather than losing steam, the yellow vest uprising continues unabated. According to the polls roughly half of the population still supports the movement. Now there's talk of blocking ports and refineries. What's more, the protests may now become more violent. What started as a largely peaceful movement on country roundabouts could degenerate into ritual of big-city riots and violence for violence's sake.”