French President Emmanuel Macron’s New Year Eve speech was highly anticipated by the nation, for it would clearly indicate if he could survive his post in 2019. Going by what the 41-year-old spoke on his first-ever ‘standing’ televised speech, it has left a lot of people, including the Yellow Vests, the Opposition and the far-right wing parties fuming.
Macron’s New Year’s address to the French was combative, although he had a generous dose of “we” and “us” to impart a sense of inclusiveness. The President is known to be an elitist, who only thinks for the rich. He promised to go ahead with the economic reforms, notwithstanding the 6-week long violent Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) movement that has rocked the capital city Paris and other parts of France.
The Gilets Jaunes movement takes its name from the hi-vision vests in bright neon colors that mostly construction workers wear to be visible from distance. The protest took off in November as a tax revolt against a new fuel duty. Soon, it transformed into a countrywide riot against unjust tax plan, and the President’s policies that favored big businesses, and brought in the monies for the wealthy.
President Macron said that the anger of the public is the result of mass unemployment and long political turmoil that existed even before he assumed his role as the leader of the country. He steered clear from naming the Gilets Jaunes movement that has witnessed violent clashes between protestors and security forces.
Six people have died and around 1,400 people injured in the protest. Rioting, arson and clashes with armed personnel have rocked Paris and other French cities since the movement started in November.
Emmanuel Macron said, “In recent years, we’ve engaged in a blatant denial of reality… We can’t work less, earn more, cut taxes and increase spending.”
Macron also issued a warning to the extremist anti-government protesters. Talking about the anger that triggered the “Yellow Vest” movement, he said that it showed France was “not resigned” and wanted to “build a better future”. The President emphasized that the state should be allowed to work on the reforms.
Yellow Vests protestors condemned Macron’s statements, and said that he could not comprehend the street voice, and promised to carry on with their protests. Jérémy Clément, a “yellow vest” said, “Mr President, you’ve tried to understand us but you’ve failed. We hope you’ll succeed in hearing us this year.”
Macron’s approval ratings dipped drastically from 40% to 20% in 2018.