You Say You Want a Revolution? – Plus ça change

For the last three weeks, France has been embroiled in a series of strikes and protests. They were originally sparked by the announcement that President Macron’s Government was planning to raise fuel prices, but have since grown to express the general dissatisfaction with Macron’s performance – a recent YouGov poll suggested as many as 78% disapprove of his leadership so far. As a symbol of the origins of the movement in the automotive industry, the protesters have taken to wearing the hi-vis yellow jackets that all vehicles in France are required to carry by law – a health and safety official’s dream! Despite the Government letter dropping the proposed fuel-price hike the protests have only increased, spreading across the country and, despite having no clear leadership, issuing over 40 demands, including a minimum pension, drastic changes to the tax system, and a reduction in the retirement age. A movement with no apparent leadership attempting to change the position of an out of touch government? In this country we call it the Labour Party.

The ferocity of last weekend’s protests in Paris shocked the nation, with cars burnt out and buildings along the Champs-Élysées vandalised. French authorities are preparing for worse this weekend and have plans to shut major Paris tourist attractions including the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, as well as the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and Opera Garnier. We’re not quite at the level of barricades in the streets yet, but news footage from France is starting to look strikingly similar to the trailers for the BBC’s new production of Les Misérables.