Macron Abandons Fuel-Tax Hike to Avoid Further Protests

French President Emmanuel Macron in N.Y., September 26, 2018. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

French president Emmanuel Macron has abandoned a previously planned fuel-tax increase after initially agreeing to delay its implementation for six months in response to violent protests in Paris.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told French lawmakers Wednesday that “the tax is now abandoned” and will not be included in the 2019 budget, the Associated Press first reported.

The concession comes after three consecutive weekends of violent protest by the gilets jaunes or “yellow jackets,” a populist movement of largely middle-class, rural citizens incensed by Macron’s decision to further increase taxes on fuel in order to combat climate change.

The protesters, who take their name from the yellow vest all French drivers are required to keep in their vehicle, began protesting against the tax hike in mid November but have since voiced a broader set of demands, including policies to address income inequality.

While the protest movement has no official leadership, unofficial spokespeople canceled a meeting with Phillippe last week after the more radical segment of the movement sent them death threats.

Asked if Macron’s concession will be sufficient to warrant the cancelation of a protest set to take place in Paris on Saturday, Jacline Mouraud, one of the group’s self-proclaimed spokespeople, suggested that the protesters will demand more.

“I think it comes much too late,” Mouraud told the Associated Press.

Macron’s concession, she said, “is on the right path but in my opinion it will not fundamentally change the movement.

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