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Macron letter bids to quell French yellow vest anger

World News | Published:

The president will undertake a series of local meetings around the country to address protesters’ concerns.

Yellow vest protesters

Yellow vest protesters and political rivals have criticised a sweeping “letter to the French” from President Emmanuel Macron as not going far enough to quell national anger at his policies.

Mr Macron’s letter explains how he is addressing the anti-government movement concerns through a “grand debate” in local meetings around the country and on the internet, starting on Tuesday.

The debate will focus on taxes, public services, climate change and democracy.

Yellow vest representative Jeremy Clement told BFM television that the letter “settles part of the problem” but does not go far enough to address sinking purchasing power.

Protester Jerome Rodrigues told CNews television that Mr Macron failed to recognise “the urgency” of concerns of low-income workers and retirees.

France Protests
A woman passes a mural by street artist PBOY depicting yellow vest protesters inspired by a painting by Eugene Delacroix, La Liberte guidant le Peuple (Christophe Ena/AP)

Others criticised Mr Macron for ruling out a restoration of France’s wealth tax on households with assets above 1.3 million euros (£1.15 million), and opposition leaders also criticised the letter.

In it, Mr Macron said there are no prohibited topics and lists more than 30 questions.

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He suggests the French can express their views on which taxes should be lowered, what solutions there are for reducing the price of travel, heating and food, and whether mandatory voting and reducing the number of lawmakers should be considered.

Mr Macron also mentions the possibility of introducing annual immigration quotas, saying it would not apply to asylum status.

He stresses that “we will not abandon measures we have taken … to encourage investment and make the work pay more”.

The French leader said the debate would help the government develop policies and France’s position on the European and international scene.

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The debate comes as the yellow vest movement appeared to gain new momentum this weekend.

The French Interior Ministry said about 84,000 people turned out on Saturday for the ninth straight round of demonstrations across France, up from 50,000 the previous week.

Thierry Paul Valette, founder of a group called “yellow vests citizens”, said the yellow vests would have “no break. The mobilisations continue”.

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