Paris police fire tear gas at ‘Yellow Jacket’ protesters

Paris riots

Police in Paris have fired tear gas and used water cannon against protesters on the Champs Elysées, in the center of the French capital.

The “yellow vest” protests, which began as a campaign against rising gas prices, have morphed into a wider demonstration against the government of President Emmanuel Macron in recent weeks.

After staging roadblocks on highways across France for days, hundreds of demonstrators converged on the Champs Elysees carrying signs that read “Macron, thief,” and “Macron, resign.”

Wearing the fluorescent yellow vests donned by stranded motorists in France, the protestors are upset about new taxes on diesel and ordinary gasoline, designed to encourage people to favor more environmentally friendly transport. Along with these taxes, the government has offered financial incentives to buy more fuel efficient or electric vehicles.

Since coming to office in May 2017, Macron has repeatedly faced criticism about being out of touch with the common women and men of France.

He has been dubbed the

“president of the rich”

for cutting a wealth tax and his approval rating is at a dismal 20 percent.

Accused of being out of touch with voters, the French president’s poll ratings continue to slide ahead of EU elections in 2019. Can he boost his image before he loses the argument over Europe?

“People voted for Emmanuel Macron and for the new party because they didn’t want political figures who were governing based on polls,” an MP from Macron’s En Marche party has told Conflict Zone.

Alexandre Holroyd, who represents French citizens living in Northern Europe, cited Macron’s decisive victories in France’s presidential and parliamentary elections as evidence that voters wanted reform.

“One of the disasters we’ve had in the last twenty years is that governments have had an eye to the polls more than to policy,” Holroyd said. “The idea that by transforming a country and doing fundamental reforms your poll will go up or down shouldn’t matter.”

Meanwhile in Paris

Police say they have mobilized 3,000 officers in Paris to deal with the situation. A security perimeter has been set up in the city center, with government buildings protected.
At a news conference on Friday evening, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said of the protesters: “Their freedom of expression will be guaranteed, but it must not be exercised to the detriment of security, public order and the right of everybody to come and go. There is no liberty without public order.”
Last weekend a protester was accidentally run over and killed by a car, and more than 200 people were injured during a demonstration in eastern France.

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