French President Emmanuel Macron broke his silence on Monday after weeks-long violent protests broke out in the European nation, initially over a massive fuel tax. Macron, a hero to the American Left, pleaded with the demonstrators, who call themselves the “yellow vests,” to cease protesting and offered major tax cuts in concession. He also promised to use “all means” necessary to restore order.
“I take my share of responsibility for the anger gripping France,” Macron offered in a pre-recorded address to the French people at the Elysee Palace. “I might have hurt people with my words.”
Earlier this month, Macron suspended the much-protested fuel tax for six months as a form of appeasement; when that wasn’t enough, he backed off the tax entirely. “France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed to lawmakers that the tax will not be included in the 2019 budget,” reported The Daily Wire.
Here are some of the other concessions offered by the French leader, TIME Magazine reports:
- a government-funded 100-euro increase in the minimum wage starting at the beginning of the new year
- the abolition of taxes on overtime pay in 2019
- asking profit-making companies to give workers tax-free year-end bonuses
- slashing a tax hike on small pensions, acknowledging it was “unjust.”
Shifting the blame somewhat, Macron argued that the unrest was largely due to a 40-year “malaise” from a French people frustrated with inevitable globalization.
The leader also backed the criticized police measures implemented at the protests and blasted demonstrators for vandalism and violence. “Authorities will show ‘no indulgence’ to those behind the vandalism and rioting, Macron said, adding that ‘no anger justifies’ attacking police or looting stores,” says the TIME report.
Justifying potential police action, Macron said he’d use “all means” necessary to restore order. “When violence is unleashed, freedom stops,” said the leader.
There are no signs that Macron will offer his resignation in light of the unrest, either. CNN’s chief international anchor Christine Amanpour made note that Macron previosuly told her that he would not stop his liberal crusade due to baclash from the citizenry.
“I asked President [Emmanuel Macron] in 2017 whether he would back off his reforms, like presidents past, if facing mass protest. ‘No, I will deliver,’ he told me. ‘I do believe in democracy. And democracy is not in the street,'” wrote Amanpour in a tweet.
The concessions offered by Macron do not appear to be enough for at least some of the French people. There have already been reports of upcoming protests for Saturday, and other disgruntled yellow vests say Macron’s resignation is a necessity.