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Act XXII: Yellow Vests participation higher than government estimates

According to estimates by the French Interior Ministry, some 31 000 Yellow Vest protesters gathered for the 22nd consecutive Saturday, counting at least 5 000 participants in Paris. But the numbers were much higher said protesters.

Published: April 14, 2019, 9:47 am

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    Toulouse and Paris were the main meeting places on Saturday, April 13, for Act XXII of the ongoing protest. The numbers cited by Ministry of the Interior, as reported by BFMTV, were disputed however.

    The announcements by Beauvau are regularly criticised by the demonstrators, who have for their part given a provisional figure of 80 504 people. The police prefecture announced 27 arrests and 9 473 preventive checks in Paris in the early evening.

    The procession in the French capital joined the march for “Freedom to Protest” from Place de la Républic, organized by several groups.

    A major demonstration by the Yellow Vests was also held in Toulouse this Saturday. As reported by Le Figaro, clashes occurred in the early afternoon between the police and some demonstrators.

    An hour after the beginning of their mobilization, the Yellow Vests found themselves facing barriers erected by the police on the route of the march. According to LCI, tensions also occurred at the end of the demonstration in the city, where 23 people were arrested in the city center for allegedly throwing projectiles, degrading buildings and carrying weapons.

    According to Le Figaro, in the early afternoon the police then used tear gas and stun grenades to reduce the scope of mobilisation of the protesters. Some people remained stationed in front of the roadblocks and projectiles were fired at the security forces.

    The newspaper noted that a construction machine was burned. According to France Bleu Occitanie, a protester was injured in clashes with the police. Toulouse was the main rallying point of Yellow Vests on Saturday with some protesters calling on social networks to “take over” the Capitol Square.

    According to La Dépêche du Midi more than 800 police and gendarmes were deployed while the mayor of the city had declared himself “rather worried”.

    In the rest of France, mobilisations were planned in Marseille, Grenoble and Lille. The police headquarters had issued a decree forbidding the gathering of Yellow Vests on the Champs-Elysees and in the surrounding area. In the capital, the route mapped out was Boulevard Diderot, in the 12th arrondissement.

    The president of Debout France meanwhile estimated that the protest movement should be translated into “measures”.

    Even if the ongoing mobilisation of recent months has weakened, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan remains hopeful about the future of the movement. When asked if he would wear a Yellow Vest on the weekend, the leader of the conservative party replied “always”.

    But the head of the list in the European elections clarified his support: “There have been no measures taken to reward France for the merits of working, for the retirees who have worked hard all their lives and are robbed,” he said, adding that the movement must “have a political translation”.

    “The challenge is to provide solutions,” he said. Therefore, for the MP from Essonne, the measures should be simple: the reindexing of pensions “to match inflation” and a VAT “at zero for products of first necessity”.

    In an interview with Le Figaro, the Speaker of the Senate Gerard Larcher meanwhile said that Emmanuel Macron “will have no second chance” for “the second act of his quinquennium”.

    Macron is in trouble because the French voters expect concrete answers to the current social crisis.

    Larcher saluted “our fellow citizens who participated with great sincerity and responsibility”. But according to him, Macron will not be able to deliver any answers except for “only cosmetic or purely institutional” responses.

    Questioned by the daily on how Emmanuel Macron should govern, the Senate president said that “his mission today is primarily to rebuild confidence”.

    Confidence “between the French and the elected officials, the government, the officials, the unions but above all … in himself, because a lot of resentment has been focused on him”.

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