France protests: Fuel tax rises in 2019 budget dropped

A demonstrators holds a flare during a demonstration of Yellow Vests against the rising of the fuel and oil prices

A demonstrators holds a flare during a demonstration of Yellow Vests against the rising of the fuel and oil prices

Macron is a 40-year-old former investment banker and economy minister.

The suspension of fuel taxes marked the first major U-turn by Mr Macron in his 18 months in office, at a time polls show barely one in five French people think he is doing a good job.

"This anger, you would have to be deaf and blind not to see it, nor hear it", Philippe said after more than a fortnight of demonstrations by so-called "yellow vest" protesters.

"No tax is worth putting the nation's unity in danger", Philippe said in a live televised address.

France has scrapped plans for all petrol price hikes in 2019 following weeks of violent protests.

Four people have been killed and hundreds injured in accidents linked to the nationwide road blockades and protests, which are playing havoc with traffic in the busy run-up to Christmas.

Chalencon said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press that the grassroots movement, triggered by fuel tax hikes, has grown amid Macron's silence.

One of the frequent demands from the protesters, who are mostly from rural or small-town France, is a repeal of Macron's move previous year to cut the ISF "fortune tax" which was previously levied on high-earners.

"If a measure that we have taken, which is costing the public money, turns out not to be working, if it's not going well, we're not stupid - we would change it", he said.

She said each of the disparate protesting groups will decide what to do next, but many will probably keep demonstrating. That's also what we want. She said Macron's move "is on the right path but in my opinion it will not fundamentally change the movement". "The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed..."

Adding to the image of a country in revolt, the main French farmers' union said Wednesday that its members would hold demonstrations every day next week.

The demonstrations, which began on November 17, sparked on Saturday Paris' worst rioting in decades, with protesters clashing with police, setting fire to vehicles and looting shops around the capital's famed Champs Elysees avenue.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner urged "responsible" protesters not to descend on Paris, but has nonetheless called in police reinforcements in case of more violence.

Paris Saint-Germain's home Ligue 1 football match against Montpellier on Saturday has already been called off, as has an electro music festival in the city centre.

"The Yellow Vests seem to be the face of a deep malaise in French society", wrote Poirier.

Trade unions so far have not played a role in the yellow vest protest movement but are now trying to capitalize on growing public anger.

The sweep of the protests and their wide support by citizens of all political stripes has shocked Macron's government.

Negotiating with the protesters, named for wearing high-visibility yellow vests "gilets jaunes" has been hard for the government as the leaderless activists are spread throughout rural and urban France and include people with grievances beyond objections to the fuel duty.

Workers who live in rural areas far from city centers were the worst-affected by the fuel taxes, as they rely on their cars far more than city dwellers, bolstering protesters' complaints that Macron represents those wealthy enough to live in Paris and other large cities.

Immediately after coming to power in 2017, Macron pushed through tax cuts for entrepreneurs and high-earners - an "original sin" for his critics.

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