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France: Macron considering May referendum to mollify “yellow vest” protests /update 22

President Emmanuel Macron considering May referendum to mollify “yellow vest” protests, per reports on February 3; additional demonstrations expected across France over the coming weeks, particularly on Saturdays

04 févr. 00h39 UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 3/2/2019, 12h00 until 10/2/2019, 11h59 (Europe/Paris). COUNTRY/REGION France
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Event

According to French media reports on Sunday, February 3, President Emmanuel Macron is considering holding a referendum in late May to mollify the widespread "yellow vest" protests which have been ongoing in the country since November 2018. The vote would reportedly coincide with European Parliament elections (May 26) and would likely address perceived outstanding political, social, and economic issues, perhaps including whether the country should reduce its number of lawmakers or shorten their terms in office.

Additional "yellow vest" protests are to be expected across France over the coming weeks, particularly on Saturdays. A heightened security presence is to be expected near related demonstrations. Localized transportation and business disruptions are likely in the vicinity of protests, and clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.

Context

The "yellow vest" movement began on November 17, 2018, to protest rising fuel prices and a planned fuel tax and has since grown to encompass a number of popular grievances against the French government; some protests have turned violent and acts of vandalism and looting have been reported, although the scale of the protests has diminished since their height in December. Some 1700 demonstrators and 1000 police officers have been wounded in clashes since the protests began.

The government had previously announced a tax increase on fuel prices, including gasoline and diesel, beginning on January 1, 2019, to promote environmentally friendly practices. Although the government announced the withdrawal of the carbon tax project from the 2019 budget on December 5, protests have continued.

Advice

Individuals in France are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, budget extra time to reach their destinations if traveling through areas affected by demonstrations, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.

 

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