Macron govt drops fuel tax hike as 'yellow vest' anger still simmers


Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced the delay of the tax increases in a speech on national television.

Philippe said the state would do all it could to maintain order. He said that the French who have worn yellow vests "want taxes to drop, and work to pay".

It is also not lost on them that it is the rich, unbothered by fuel taxes, who are hardest on the environment because they travel and consume more.

"Just like everybody, we're strangled (financially) after the 15th of the month", he said, referring to the day when many workers are paid.

The announcements came as around 200 high schools across the country remained blocked or disrupted by students protesting a raft of education overhauls, on a fourth day of action called to coincide with the anti-government demonstrations.

Macron decided Wednesday to "get rid" of the tax planned for next year, an official in the president's office told The Associated Press.

Some "yellow vest" protesters called for calm Thursday after the worst rioting in Paris in decades last weekend.

Macron's popularity has slumped to a new low since the first demonstrations took place on November 17.

Like numerous demonstrators, Claudio - he refused to give his full name because he did not want to be accused by the "yellow vests" of speaking out of turn - likened the explosion of anger to the 1789 French Revolution.

The "gilets jaunes" (yellow vest) protests have hit major cities over the past three weekends.

More news: Mourinho says fresh Arsenal pose big challenge for United

Videos circulating on social media of police beating protesters at a Burger King on the Champs-Elysees have deepened the anger. Police used tear gas to control crowds.

But now his government has bowed to pressure and promised to suspend the tax rise for at least six months, which raises the questions: where does this leave France's fight against global warming - and what message does it send to the wider world? They see the 40-year-old former investment banker as closer to big business. He has promised to reform France's economy and increase economic growth.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen tweeted that the delay in price rises was "obviously not up to the expectations of the French people struggling with precariousness", and noted sarcastically that it is "surely a coincidence" that the price hikes will now come into effect a few days after European Union elections. He's also seen as the "president of the rich" - his first fiscal decision as president was scrapping a wealth tax.

Last weekend, more than 130 people were injured and 412 arrested in rioting in the French capital. The demonstrations took place as France joins other countries at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland.

On the street, that means that 79 police units will be deployed in Paris, compared to the 50 sent out last weekend.

She said each of the disparate protesting groups will decide what to do next, but many will probably keep demonstrating.

The movement does not seem to be led by a known labor leader or opposition politician. Energy costs make up a larger portion of their overall expenses, so a fuel price increase eats up more of their paycheque and leaves them with less to spend.

The movement has evolved into a general expression of discontent of the policies of the metropolitan elite, with the Yellow Vests protesting also against taxes, the cost of living, and the progressive president's plan to sign the controversial UN Migration Compact next week. George Grow was the editor.

"Trump also retweeted a false claim from American conservative student activist Charlie Kirk that said: "'We want Trump' being chanted through the streets of Paris".