Paris Riots – who are the 'yellow vests' and what do the gilets jaunes want?

The protests began in mid-November about fuel tax rises but have escalated into expressions of wider discontent about President Emmanuel Macron’s policies. Here’s what you need to know.

Who are the yellow vests?

The yellow vest movement is led by protesters wearing the distinctively coloured roadside safety vests used by motorists known as gilets jaunes in French

Since the movement kicked off November 17, three people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes or accidents stemming from the protests.

In the past three weeks, demonstrators have been setting up roadblocks across the country and their movement has won wide public support.

Riot police were overrun on Saturday as protesters wrought havoc in Paris's wealthiest neighbourhoods.

France's interior ministry says about 136,000 people took part in the protests nationwide on Sunday.

Demonstrators burned dozens of cars, looted boutiques and smashed up luxury private homes and cafes in the worst disturbances the capital has seen since 1968.

The yellow vest movement’s supporters cut across age, job profile and geographical region.

On Monday their ranks were swelled by paramedics complaining about working conditions and students angry about education reforms as the violence continued.

It has succeeded in bringing together people from across the political spectrum complaining about France's economic inequalities and waning spending power.

The movement has organised online and has no clear leadership, making talks all the more complicated for the government.

What do the want?

Most want the government to scrap the new fuel taxes, hold a review of the tax system and raise the minimum wage.

There have also been calls to roll back Macron’s tax cuts for the wealthy and his economic programme, which is seen as pro-business.

One protester said the reforms “will bludgeon us financially and destroy our companies. We're going to have to fire people, that's for sure."

One of the eight spokesmen for movement Christophe Chalençon called on Macron to resign.

He said the President should step aside for General Pierre de Villiers is a former head of the French armed forces

The general resigned after a clash with President Emmanuel Macron over budget cuts and Chalencon called him a “true commander”.

Macron says the fuel tax increases are part of his effort to combat climate change, wanting to persuade French drivers to exchange diesel-fuelled cars for less polluting models.

At the weekend he said he would not budge from his policies.

 

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