Yellow vest protests: Macron brings in former French leader Sarkozy to help tackle crisis engulfing government

Lunchtime meeting took place on eve of most violent weekend of demonstrations

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 19 December 2018 15:09
Comments

Emmanuel Macron has enlisted the help of France‘s former president Nicolas Sarkozy in the midst of a month of protests by “yellow vest“ demonstrators.

Mr Macron and Mr Sarkozy met for lunch at the Elysee Palace on 7 December and reportedly discussed public order as well as the tax exemption for overtime work Mr Macron announced last week, Le Figaro reported.

The tax measure was a key part of Mr Sarkozy’s own programme when he was president from 2007 to 2012.

Their meeting took place on the eve of the most violent weekend of demonstrations by “yellow vest” protesters and suggests the former right-wing leader’s influence on Mr Macron is rising.

Last Sunday, Mr Macron sent Mr Sarkozy to Tbilisi to represent France at the swearing-in of Georgia's new president, a move that caused a stir in French political circles.

An Elysee official said Mr Macron and Mr Sarkozy had a “cordial, and respectful” relationship, adding that the former president’s role during the 2008 Georgian crisis – when he mediated between Russia and Georgia – justified the honour.

On Tuesday, “yellow vest” protesters occupied motorway toll booths and set a number on fire, causing transport chaos in parts of the country days before the Christmas holidays.

Around 20 people were arrested on Tuesday following the blazes, while four others remain in custody following fires on Saturday.

Several people have died in roadside accidents at “yellow vest” roadblocks in recent weeks, mostly at the many roundabouts blocked by groups of demonstrators.

Emmanuel Macron (R) and his wife Brigitte greet former French president Nicolas Sarkozy (file image)

The “yellow vest” protesters, named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to have in their cars, have blocked roads and roundabouts across France since mid-November.

Initially a protest against fuel tax increases, the movement has transformed into a wider outcry over Mr Macron’s liberal economic policies.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Protesters took to the streets of Paris and other cities on Saturday for a fifth weekend of demonstrations, though they were noticeably smaller than in previous weeks after Mr Macron announced tax and salary concessions.

Protesters angry about high fuel costs and new speed limits have also damaged or torched hundreds of traffic radars.

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in