The Yellow Vest Protests and the Tragedy of Emmanuel Macron

How the Gilets Jaunes Brought the French President Low

French President Emmanuel Macron during a special address to the nation, December 2018. Reuters

France is a country with a long history of rebellions, but it has never seen anything quite like the revolt of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests), which erupted in mid-November. Disturbed by the high cost of gasoline and diesel fuel, a woman who runs an online cosmetics business in the small town of Savigny-le-Temple posted a petition on Facebook calling on authorities to cut prices at the pump. When the government instead announced that in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions it would enact a modest increase in the tax on gasoline and a slightly higher increase in the tax on diesel, the petition began to pick up steam. Before long it had gathered 986,000 signatures.

The protest then moved from the Internet to the traffic circles that dot the French countryside. France boasts some 30,000 of these, half the world’s total. Traffic entering and leaving most villages and towns must

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