France abandons petrol price hikes in response to violent protests

REUTERS  Regis Duvignau

Negotiating with the protesters, named for wearing high-visibility yellow vests "gilets jaunes" has been hard for the government as the leaderless activists are spread throughout rural and urban France and include people with grievances beyond objections to the fuel duty.

The rising cost of gasoline and diesel fuel sparked protests that have since evolved into broader demonstrations against Macron's government, exposing tensions between the metropolitan elite and rural poor.

One of the demands from the protesters, who are mostly from rural or small-town France, is a repeal of Mr. Macron's move previous year to cut the ISF "fortune tax" which was previously levied on high-earners.

The group needs support from the French people and a peaceful sit-in would have a greater impact on the government than rioting, the protest leader said.

French protesters are welcoming President Emmanuel Macron's decision to scrap a fuel tax rise planned for next year - but say it may not be enough to contain public anger.

They were supposed to be approved at a cabinet meeting Wednesday and come into effect on 1 January.

Macron had made cutting wealth taxes a key campaign pledge ahead of his election in May 2017, arguing that such levies discouraged investment and drove entrepreneurs to leave France.

She accused the government of "agri-bashing" by imposing new regulations such as requiring farmers to declare when they use glyphosate, a weed killer suspected by some scientists of causing cancer.

"I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago", Trump tweeted late on Tuesday, as United Nations climate talks take place in Poland. Prime Minister Phillipe's approval was 34 percent, according to the new poll.

Philippe made it known that "the tax is now abandoned" in the 2019 budget. French citizens were already hit with a tax increase in January, and more than 60% of the cost of fuel in France comes from government fees.

"It's on the right path, but in my opinion it will not fundamentally change the movement", she said.

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The so-called "yellow vest" movement was mostly peaceful to begin with.

"France's largest farmers' union said it will launch anti-government protests next week after trucking unions called for a rolling strike", reports the outlet.

But the policy, along with comments deemed insensitive to the working class, has prompted numerous ex-banker's critics to label him a "president of the rich".

Media captionFrance fuel protests: Who are the people in the yellow vests?

Demonstrators also blocked toll booths, letting drivers pass without paying, to press demands that ranged from higher incomes and pensions to the dissolution of the National Assembly, France's parliament.

"We need taxes, but they are not properly redistributed", protester Thomas Tricottet told BFM television.

One student was injured during protests at a high school in Saint-Jean-de-Braye in north-central France. On Tuesday night, the young leader was booed and jeered as he traveled to a regional government headquarters that was torched by protesters last weekend.

"Evidently the revolutionary tradition is still very much alive in France", he said with a smile.

Seventy-six per cent of those interviewed said they were "dissatisfied" with Mr Macron's actions as president, with half stressing they "totally disapproved" of his actions.

Amid his domestic woes, Macron also saw his "friend" US President Donald Trump weigh in on Twitter, saying protesters were disavowing Macron's adherence to the 2015 Paris climate accord.

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