French President Emmanuel Macron has satisfied few of his critics as he tries to quell five months of "yellow vest" protests with a mix of tax cuts and attempts to bridge the gap between the Paris elite and the rest of the country.
With promises of a tax cut for 15 million people, an end to the shuttering of rural hospitals and schools and the closure of the national administration school (ENA), his alma mater, Macron's speech was an attempt to meet some of the demands of the protesters who have shaken his presidency.
Thierry-Paul Valette, one of the yellow vest organizers, said Friday he was disappointed. "He is still in denial of the social movement that France has been going through for the past five months," Valette said. "Macron has not renounced anything and intends on accelerating," wrote commentator Jean-Francis Pecresse in the business newspaper Les Echos. "Emmanuel Macron has put some humanity into his liberalism but has not changed his strategy."
A poll carried out for Le Figaro newspaper found that 63 percent of people found Macron unconvincing, and 80 percent thought the yellow vest protests would continue. The yellow vest movement originally started against fuel tax hikes in November but has snowballed into a wider revolt against a president and government accused of being out of touch with ordinary people. The riots were among the worst violence the capital has experienced since the 1968 student uprising. Violent clashes with police have persisted on the fringes of weekly marches in Paris, Toulouse, Bordeaux and other cities.
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