Yellow vest leaders Priscillia Ludosky, Jérôme Rodrigues, Fabrice Grimal and Faouzi Lellouche said “our calls for a deep overhaul of the political system, more fiscal justice and stronger public services” have been widely ignored by the government. They have called for a meeting to be held “before November 16” – the day before the protest movement’s one-year anniversary. M Macron is yet to respond to their request. While the four militants did not explicitly threaten to launch a fresh wave of protests, their warning is bound to stoke fears of more unrest.
The yellow vest rebellion caught M Macron unawares when it erupted on November 17 last year, and quickly became known as the biggest and most damaging political crisis of his presidency.
The movement began online as an impromptu backlash against planned fuel tax hikes and the rising cost of living, but morphed into a sometimes violent revolt against M Macron, widely seen as pro-rich and out of touch with the day-to-day struggles of ordinary citizens.
The anger boiled over into some of the worst street violence in decades, led by protesters clad in high-visibility safety vests.
The protests forced M Macron to put his reform programme on the back burner and refocus on cutting taxes for lower-income households, after he eased the tax burden on businesses and investors in his first two years in office.
He gave a first jolt of emergency tax relief earlier this year to poor workers and households worth more than £8.6million (€10m).
Last month, his government said it would offer French taxpayers new tax cuts in its 2020 budget, as part of a wider effort to quell any future unrest that could derail upcoming reform plans.
The budget will contain more than €10billion of new tax cuts, benefiting households in particular, prime minister Edouard Philippe said.
Budget minister Gérald Darmanin added: “This is an unprecedented tax cut.
“It’s a fact that tax cuts have been stepped up in response to the yellow vest movement.”
While the Macron government was badly shaken by the protest violence, it has repeatedly insisted that it would not relent in its pursuit of reforms to reshape the country’s sluggish economy.
Up next on M Macron’s agenda is an overhaul of the country’s convoluted pension system that has the potential to raise the ire of yellow vests and reignite the movement, which has all but fizzled out.