French authorities are preparing to deploy around 80,000 police officers across the country on Saturday ahead of a ninth straight week of yellow vest protests.
The nationwide demonstrations were initially triggered by the rising cost of fuel but have since morphed into a broader anti-government revolt.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron has so far struggled to find a solution to the crisis as he faces a plethora of demands.
The protesters’ demands range from the re-introduction of France’s wealth tax, called the ISF, on the country’s richest people to the implementation of popular votes that allow citizens to propose new laws.
One protester, Claude, who is currently unemployed after being fired by a major European transport company said of the president: “He’s doing nothing in the short-term.”
He continued: “In December when he spoke on TV, if he had announced the re-introduction of the ISF, it would have been a strong signal.”
Mr Macron’s latest idea of a three-month national debate as a way for the government to hear and to respond to the movement’s central complaints is being mocked by some protesters.
“I don’t believe in this big debate,” said Michel, a 61-year-old wearing a hat with the acronym RIC, for Citizens’ Initiative Referendum, the popular vote he wants to be introduced. “Getting the RIC would be wonderful.”
Many of those protesting say they feel neglected and abandoned by politicians. Over the years, they have voted across the political spectrum, from Marine Le Pen’s extreme right party to the far left. And every time, they have been disappointed.
“The RIC could be a solution,” Tristan said. “I don’t want Macron to leave. It would not change anything. What we want is to be listened to, not just every five years when the presidential election takes place.”
- Press Association