Over the past two years, under the test of power, the archetype of the over-educated bureaucrat and egg skull has changed, at least in the eyes of some who have long ostensibly displayed their yellow vests, observes this British journalist. In rural France, the mood is now more lenient towards the head of state.
Two years ago, in November 2018, the movement of “yellow vests” exploded all over France. For nearly a year, the demonstrators – hostile to the increase in fuel taxes and the presidency of Emmanuel Macron in general – caused a real shock wave. With their weekly mobilizations and roadblocks, they have largely occupied political space.
This movement of revolt finally ran out of steam a little over a year ago. Diverted by its most extremist elements, it (barely) survives today in the form of an urban and anti-capitalist protest. It has become a movement of revolt for citizens in permanent revolt.
I live in Normandy, one of the first centers of contestation of the “yellow vests”. Two years ago, more than half of the cars in the region sported the famous safety vest behind their windshields.
Macron, the common denominator of hate
During these first months, I spoke a lot with certain active members on these roundabouts which they had taken the habit of occupying, and I could observe their communicative indignation turn into internal quarrels before sinking into the disillusionment. I also spoke with neighbors with whom I had never discussed politics. They were originally staunch supporters of the “yellow vests” and joined them in their opposition – even their detestation – of Emmanuel Macron.
The situation seems to have changed in recent weeks, as France is hit by both the Covid-19 pandemic and a wave of Islamist attacks.
The “yellow vests” initially carried a very heterogeneous list of grievances. Everyone, from committed demonstrators to ordinary spectators, made different demands heard. In this regard, the political geography of the original “yellow vests” closely resembled that of Brexit supporters in the UK or Donald Trump in the US.
The movement was an expression of resentment and of what was seen as an attack on the identity of the Deep France * – sentiments
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