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Thursday 25 April 2019 - 05:16

After five months, Macron will respond to Yellow Vest protesters

Story Code : 790559
Protesters stand next to a burning barricade during an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vest movement, on April 20, 2019, in Paris. (Photo by AFP)
Protesters stand next to a burning barricade during an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vest movement, on April 20, 2019, in Paris. (Photo by AFP)

The Yellow Vest protests, named after the high-visibility safety jackets worn by most of the demonstrators, started in mid-November in protest against a planned increase in fuel prices. The government cancelled the plan, but the protests continue on a national scale, reflecting widespread dissatisfaction in the French society.

Police clashed with the demonstrators for a 23rd straight weekend on Saturday.

The announcement is coming against the backdrop of the nationwide "Great National Debate," which included 10,000 local meetings, a multitude of online contributions, and 100 hours of presidential talking in public meetings over the past three months.

"He wants to break the image of someone who's stubborn and who never listens to anybody," Arnaud Mercier, an expert in political communication at the Institut Francais de Presse at Assas University in Paris, told Reuters.

The French president was scheduled to announce the policy measures on April 15 but the fire that ripped through the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris forced him to postpone the announcement.

Most of those measures have been leaked, with French media reporting that they included a cut in income tax, re-linking the lowest pensions with inflation, halting the closure of hospitals and schools in rural areas, and revoking the ENA civil service college, which has for many become a symbol of privileged elite.

Macron, however, has not given up on his reform agenda as he is expected to declare measures to make the French "work more," according to French media outlets.

The leaked reforms have not apparently satisfied the prominent Yellow Vest figures and political opponents.

"We'll surely have a lot of things to say after the predictable disappointment from Macron's announcements, if the leaks in the media are any guide," Sophie Tissier, a representative of the Yellow Vest movement, told BFM TV.
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