Protests against recent fuel tax rises turned violent in France as citizens clash with police. The protests are just one of the many anti-Macron movements developing within France. Facing pressure from both left and right, Macron see’s yet another challenge to his leadership as his popularity plummets.
100,000 people participated in the most recent protests, and around 8,000 in the capital, engaged in clashes with police. Protestors removed police cordons and tear gas was launched into crowds, leaving 19 people injured, including 4 officers. 30 officers have been injured on the poverty stricken Reunion Island, where troops have been deployed. Overall 2 people have died in the protests so far.
This most recent anti-Macron movement is a different. They describe themselves as apolitical and are leaderless unlike the recent union led protests. Protesters cross political boundaries as anti-tax right wingers and cost-of-living issue leftists have, at least seemingly, united to face off against the embattled president.
These are not the first protests against the centrist leader. Soon after Macron’s election, union leaders and left wing activists actively fought against him, fearing his neoliberal reforms threaten workers rights. Led primarily by the historically linked French Communist Party union, the CGT, large scale protests using physical force tactics have shown that Macron faces a complete crisis.
Macron has taken an unwavering stance against all protests in a manner held by nearly all French presidents who often see themselves facing down an angry, revolutionary section of the masses. France has a proud history of physical force protests, drawing back on its historically significant revolution. The protests hark back to the days of May 1968 where workers and revolutionary students, who held the portraits of Lenin, Marx and Mao, united against Charles De Gaulle.
What can be taken away from these most recent, as well as past, protests is that Macron will very much likely not face re-election. The future of France is in the hands of either the far right or the far left. French National Front fascist Marine Le Pen is one potential future candidate having qualified for the second round in last years election or Communist Party backed past candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon . If the French radical left united around the figure it is likely he could be a suitable challenge to Le Pen.
In any case France is once again caught up in a cycle of its own history. The only way to stop this cycle of centrist leadership leading to protests and violence is the election of a radical candidate. Whether it leads to the rise of the radical left or the far right, like so many times in history before, remains to be seen.