A spokeswoman for the police, Johanna Primevert, spoke on French television of a “weaker mobilization”. As a sign of the numbers shrinking, in contrast to last weekend, tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and other museums have remained open.
According to figures from the Ministry of the Interior, some 66 000 people demonstrated throughout France on Saturday. Last weekend, they were 125 000, according to the same source.
A drop in participants was hailed by Richard Ferrand, president of the National Assembly, who told CNews that the time for debate has arrived.
But such reassurances were contradicted by reporters and eyewitnesses in French media. Thus, the comparatively lower number of demonstrators is also due to the fact that many highways and access roads were blocked. Numerous demonstrators stressed that they wanted to continue after this fifth protest weekend.
Interviewed by franceinfo, politician Éric Coquerel said that “the government would be wrong to think that it [the Yellow Vests] has gone out of business and would not go further” because fewer people demonstrated on Saturday. “The movement of Yellow vests is not a movement like the others,” the elected official warned.
In Paris, 8 000 security forces and 14 armored cars were deployed over the weekend. So far, according to French media in several places such as the Opera or on the Champs Elysées it came to violent clashes with protesters.
The police used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. By the afternoon more than 95 protesters were detained.
Many Yellow Vests also protested in Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Nantes and Marseille, as well as in many rural areas and at border crossings to Belgium and Spain. Nationwide, about 34 000 people took to the streets, while a total of 69 000 security forces were mobilized.
Macron tried to calm the demonstrators early in the week, announcing, among other things, an increase in the minimum wage. Large parts of the Yellow Vest movement, however, continue to demand the resignation of Macron.