Macron won’t cede to “thugs” as he confronts diesel tax anger
President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he understood the anger felt by voters outside France’s big cities over the squeeze that fuel prices have put on households, but insisted he would not be bounced into changing policy by “thugs”.
For over a week, “yellow vest” protesters have blocked roads across France and impeded access to some fuel depots, shopping centres and factories in protest against fuel tax hikes they say have eroded their spending power.
The unrest, including violent skirmishes stirred by fringe groups in Paris over the weekend, has stung Macron as he tries to fight back against a sharp fall in popularity and exposed him to charges of being out of touch with voters.
A little over 18 months into his presidency, it has raised questions about whether the 40-year-old former investment banker has misjudged his ability to overhaul France and its economy.
“We must not change course, because the policy direction is right and necessary,” Macron said in an hour-long address outlining his blueprint for a transition towards cleaner energy.