Published on 15 Dec 2018
(11 Dec 2018) At a small Alpine village in south-eastern France, people with the yellow vest protest movement gathered to watch their president break his silence on the weeks-long unrest. Most couldn’t bear to watch the president close his statement with a solemn ‘Vive la France’ and had got up and left the improvised screening room before Emmanuel Macron had finished. In his brief televised statement, Macron tried to reassert control over a nation wracked by increasingly violent protests with offers of tax relief for struggling workers and pensioners – and an exceptional admission that “I might have hurt people with my words.” But for Margencel residents Dominique and Michele, it was not enough. Dominique and Michele suspended the normal course of their lives when they started spending hours at a shelter, atop a roundabout in Magencel, on the French side of the border outside Geneva.
Despite Macron ordering the government and parliament to take immediate steps to change tax rules and other policies that hit the wallets of working class French people, Dominique insisted the problem was not the taxes but the president himself. “He’s lost all credibility and people don’t trust him”, he said. “He must leave.” Michele was not impressed, and said she wouldn’t be going anywhere until she had “proof”. For their fellow protester, Milliau, the president’s long silence left him with a growing frustration. “Thirteen minutes since November 17, that’s not a lot of minutes compared to the number of days we’ve been here”, he said. Still, Milliau conceded Macron had taken “one big step forward”. “Thank you, Mr Macron,” he added, “but it’s not finished.”