After weeks of nationwide protests in France, Emmanuel Macron has finally backed down.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told ruling party MPs Tuesday that he would present “gestures of appeasement” in a TV address to prevent the febrile atmosphere from escalating.
The proposed fuel increase sparked the ‘gilets jaunes’ (yellow vest) protests, which saw damage and violence in Paris and across the country over the past three weekends. The French economy has suffered as well, with retailers, hotels, and restaurants reporting their revenues have slid 15% to 50% since the protests began according to finance minister Bruno Le Maire.
The gilets jaunes protest started as a peaceful opposition to Macron’s planned tax increase on gas and diesel by 2.9 cents and 6.5 cents a liter, respectively, which they say would disproportionately affect people who are already disadvantaged by low wages and unemployment. The concerns of the movement, however, have expanded beyond the proposed fuel tax, now comprising at least 40 demands issued by protesters in a statement.
The fuel tax was intended to mitigate climate change, and the public outcry against it may be a harbinger of things to come as other countries, especially unequal ones, attempt to address the human impact on the environment.