The mass demonstrations of the Yellow Jackets continue to torment the French President, for the third consecutive weekend now.
With the looting of Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe, police have already arrested 412 Yellow Jackets since Saturday and 363 demonstrators spent most of the weekend in jail. Across Paris, burnout graffiti could be seen, with the labels, “Macron thief,” “Macron go away!”
While the number of activists have decreased from 280,000 on November 17 to 136,000 on December 1, a survey suggests that 72 percent of the French are still willing to protest. The crisis mode is still on, as a tax tweak – suspension of carbon taxes during periods of high petrol prices – failed to end the protests.
What can Emmanuel Macron do in this situation?
Come at the forefront
The foremost preference should be given to the PR. Macron chose to remain silent when the protest began. He maintained his low profile over the course of next 10 days with a string of international visits. If the Yellow Jackets crisis needs to end, Macron needs to communicate.
However, his speech on November 27 failed to deter the Yellow Jackets. Taking over the stage without palpable and immediate policy changes would only end in worsening the crisis even more.
Rearrangements within the Cabinet
Reshuffling the Cabinet would not be a difficult move for Macron, as he is famous for promoting loyalists and maintain gender and political balance in his government. The president had rearranged his communications team in September and also did some changes in his team of ministers in October. New rearrangements within the Cabinet would show Yellow Jackets that their concerns are being heard and considered.
Unify the opponents
Macron could end the crisis by joining hands with the opposition parties to scrap out the legislative solutions. Macron has been calling for left-leaning Socialist Party leaders and their right-leaning Les Républicains counterparts to help draft compromise measures.
Emmanuel Macron could give in to the demands of the Yellow Jackets and abandon carbon tax hike. He could instead support the Yellow Jackets by announcing an indefinite suspension of the tax. The move would surely make Macron look hypocritical, but it would also make him appear a people’s president, willing to listen to his citizens and admit his mistakes.