The strongest is never strong enough to be always the master, unless he transforms strength into right, and obedience into duty - Rousseau
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron admitted to the nation that he had blundered. In the face of weeks long country-wide protests, Macron dubbed “pro-rich” president, had little choice in the matter. An admission of his mistakes was the only way to salvage his presidency.
The President, a former banker, agreed to increase wages by 100 Euros, cancel the proposed tax increase for low income pensioners, withdraw the move to tax overtime work and the employers were requested to make year- end bonus tax free. However still he continued to oppose to the protesters demand for a new tax on the rich on the basis that it would weaken their ability to create more jobs.
Through the president attributed the issues that plagued the country, especially like the deterioration of the public administration in villages, to the failure of consecutive governments, he conceded “I assume my share of the situation - I may have given you the feeling I have other concerns and priorities. I know some of you have been hurt by my words”. “We undoubtedly haven’t been able to provide a sufficiently fast and strong response for a year and-a-half…. I take my share of responsibility for this” President Macron admitted to his people.
Macron dubbed “pro-rich” president, had a little choice in the matter. An admission of his mistakes was the only way to salvage his presidency
Call it inexperience or arrogance the fact remains that the young President who will turn 41 on December 21 has remained detached from the common man ever since he took over office eighteen months ago. The ever widening gulf between Macron’s plans for the country and the aspirations of the masses and the president’s repeated refusal to listen to public grievances finally gave rise to a new protest movement - Mouvement des gilets jaunes or the Yellow Vests Movement.
The drive which was started in the form of an online petition and later joined by Facebook calls for road blocks and other forms of protests against the President finally brought the country to a standstill. Among the slew of demands of the gilets jaunes, were an overhauling of the current tax system, a 40% pay hike and the upgrading of the state sector. It had long been argued that the standard of the public hospitals and schools, especially in the villages and suburban areas has been dropping drastically and Macron who came to power last year with so many promises hardly has addressed this issue.
An opinion poll following the mass scale protests on December 1 has indicated that 81% of the public supported the gilet jaunes. Polls had also shown that about 80% of the French population today thinks that Macron is “authoritarian” and 71% thinks he is “arrogant”.
The fact that the President Macron has insulated himself from the ordinary man is a fact that even his wife Brigitte Macron has admitted. “Now, unfortunately, we are alone. That’s what living in the Elysée Palace does to you: we can’t trust anyone but each other. We’re lonely together, but lonely nevertheless…I trust Emmanuel and Emmanuel trusts me. That’s all that matters,” she was quoted as saying recently. 65-year-old Brigitte Macron has reportedly advised the President’s staff to let the President know that he is too “arrogant and snappy”.
What the president’s aides and Brigitte Macron could not do the Yellow Vests Movement has done. Given its success chances are that many protest groups in the rest of Europe attempting to replicate its achievement.