France’s Macron Makes Concessions While ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests Continue

Yves here. This Real News Network segment gives some broader context for the gilets jaunes movement. Note that in an address on Monday, Macron apologized and gave some economic concessions, like raising the minimum wage by 100 euros a month and ending taxes on overtime work, but did not reinstate the wealth tax, which he eliminated shortly after taking office.

And at the risk of getting out over my skis, this post lets Macron off too lightly. Macron is a died-in-the-wool neoliberal. He imposed labor “reforms” in 2017 and withstood wide-spread protests then.

Noe that the left vote in the last election was split between Jean-Luc Melenchon and Benoit Hamon. Had Hamon dropped out, Melenchon would have won. One of my colleagues spoke Hamon after the election about why he didn’t withdraw, since it was clear he would not win. Hamon said he didn’t support Melenchons’s policies.

GREG WILPERT: France is on edge as the so-called “Yellow Vest” movement is continuing its nation-wide protests for a fourth consecutive week. This past Saturday, over 100,000 took to the streets in Paris and throughout the country to protest against the neoliberal government of President Emmanuel Macron. The last two Saturdays, though, the protests took a turn towards vandalism and street fights, when police intervened with massive tear gas volleys and water cannons, and some protesters smashed storefronts and set cars on fire. Over 1,200 protesters were arrested in the most recent action, and over 100 protesters and 17 police officers were injured, with over $4 million dollars in property damage, according to France’s interior minister.

The yellow vest protests began on November 17, apparently rather spontaneously, in reaction to the Macron government’s decision to raise gasoline taxes by as much as 25 cents per gallon, beginning on January 1 next year. This would have raised gasoline to about 1.59 Euros per liter, or to about $6 per gallon. Yellow vest protesters say this is an unbearable price increase, and called on anyone who agrees to take to the street wearing the yellow emergency vests that all cars in France are required to carry as part of an emergency kit. Initially the protests mobilized nearly 300,000. Since then the number of demonstrators have declined each week, but the militancy of the protests seems to have intensified.

Following the third Saturday protest on December 1, President Macron announced that he would temporarily suspend the gas tax increase and that electricity prices would be frozen for the winter. This, however, did not appease the yellow vests, who now say they want President Macron to resign and vowed to continue the weekly protests until he leaves office.

PROTESTER: The feeling is that this is, above all, a peaceful demonstration. To continue this action peacefully, what we want is a change of government. That’s something we can agree on. Most people, everyone, wants that. We don’t want them anymore. They’re no longer credible; it’s impossible. Here we are now and, as you can see, we’re peaceful, and they’re gassing us.

GREG WILPERT: The Macron government initially tried to dismiss the protests, saying that they were organized by the far right. Also, many sectors of the French left have been very suspicious of who is involved in the protests and who organized them. Although there is little doubt that supporters of France’s far-right and anti-immigrant National Rally party, led by Marine Le Pen, have been actively involved in the protests, it is becoming increasingly clear that the participants are politically very diverse.

JEAN BRICMONT: It’s certainly an unstructured movement. There’s no, you know, they don’t police their own movement, they can’t expel people from the movement. Anybody can put a yellow vest. Of course there’s been far-right people there. But I don’t think it has anything to do with the far right as we know it in other countries. In fact, it is to be credited to the French that this movement is largely French and Republican.

COLE STANGLER: It was organized without the support of unions and political parties at the very beginning. Unions and parties have now endorsed the protest, to varying degrees. Every major political party officially supported, with the exception of the Greens, officially supported that call for scrapping the fuel tax. But it’s important to note these parties and unions were not at the foundation of this movement. It really started on social media. It started as a grassroots movement of people that were really upset about this question of the fuel tax.

GREG WILPERT: It is tempting to see the yellow vest protests as a specific reaction to a specific policy – the gas tax increase – but most analysts seem to agree that it goes far beyond this policy. Rather, the gas tax was just the latest policy in a whole series in which France has been gradually dismantling the welfare state by defunding its national healthcare system, school system, and rail system. These cuts have been hitting rural and semi-urban populations far harder than the major cities, which is why most yellow vest protesters come from these areas.

COLE STANGLER: The people that are protesting, the yellow vests, are people that are not the traditional kinds of people that protest in France. They’re coming from rural parts of the country. They’re coming from what’s known as the peri-urban areas of the country, which means the kind of outer bands of the suburbs and metropolitan areas; parts of the country that have suffered a lot from budget cuts, from freeze or disengagement of public investment. And this is really how the movement got started.

GREG WILPERT: President Macron, though, has tried to present the yellow vest protests as being anti-ecological, since the gas tax is supposed to decrease gas use and to bring about a shift towards renewable energy in France.

EMMANUEL MACRON: You can’t be for the environment on Monday and against the fuel price rises on Tuesday. You can’t decide on a carbon tax a few years ago, and then denounce the cost of fuel today. May I remind you that this tax was voted in 2009, 2014, 2015, committing political figures of various persuasions to it.

GREG WILPERT: Protesters, though, respond that not only is the gas tax not earmarked for expanding the renewable energy sector, but it hits people hard who must use their cars on a daily basis and have no alternative for getting to work, or who use their cars for work.

JEAN BRICMONT: I did not expect the level of misery that I hear in the testimonies of people saying they can’t make ends meet, they don’t have anything to eat after the 20th or the 25th of the month. People describing the situation in the hospital, which used to be one of the best medical systems in the world, being absolutely dramatic. Waiting lines. You know, I mean, all these things, I mean, just unbelievable how much France seems to be being destroyed.

And I think the problem is not Macron. Macron, of course, was speaking publicly like the elites are speaking privately, by showing utter contempt for the people. And you know, that, of course, made him unpopular. But I think the problem is much, much deeper, and has to do, I think, with what we call globalization.

GREG WILPERT: Meanwhile, some of France’s political parties are beginning to recognize the importance of the yellow vest movement and are trying to get in on the action. The far-right National Rally party of Marine Le Pen, as well as the leftist France Unbowed party of Jean-Luc Melenchon, are expressing support for the protests.

MARINE LE PEN: I call once again on the president of the Republic to take into account the suffering that has been expressed, to provide a response, to leave the presidential palace, and to stop stonewalling and locking himself into the Elysee Palace.

JEAN-LUC MELANCHON: What happy days we live in today, because finally France has entered a time of general non-submission to an unjust order that has lasted for too long.

GREG WILPERT: Also, various sectors of France, such as the pro-communist party’s union federation, the CGT, and various student groups are calling for strikes and protests against the government now. Even one of France’s typically very conservative police unions is expressing support.

Exactly where all of this will lead is very uncertain. President Macron made a major announcement on Monday, promising an increase in the minimum wage and tax reductions for pensioners and for overtime work. His minister of the interior warned that the protests will negatively impact France’s fragile economic growth. It is clear that France’s working class and lower middle class has been suffering significantly from the dismantling of the welfare state and the imposition of neoliberalism. However, no coherent organized movement has yet managed to lead the discontent towards real political change.

PROTESTER: We’re discussing amongst ourselves to find a solution, because we don’t have a leader yet. But there needs to be a leader to end this crisis. We have to find a leader.

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    1. sd

      Thank you for posting the link from Piketty:

      The saddest thing is the appalling wastage and mess concerning global warming. If a carbon tax is to succeed, it is imperative that the totality of the net proceeds be allocated to the social measures associated with the ecological transition. The government has done just the opposite: only 10% of the 4 billion Euros rise in fuel duty in 2018, and the extra 4 billion expected in 2019, were earmarked for social measures, while the remainder financed, de facto, the abolition of the wealth tax (ISF) and the flat tax on income from capital.

      If Macron wants to save his five-year period in power, he must immediately re-instate the wealth tax and allocate the revenue to compensate those who are the most affected by the rises in carbon tax, which must continue.

      If he does not do so, that will mean that he will have opted for an outdated pro-rich ideology at the expense of the campaign against global warming.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        I don’t think even that (reinstating the wealth tax) would do – though it would be a significant victory. They must reverse the onslaught against the social programs such as health care, public transportation, and workers rights. There must be a change in core attitude, probably starting in Brussels. Like the US and other neo-liberal meteorites, these upward wealth transfers and privatization maneuvers are eating France alive and an obvious product of this social destruction is that the people are voicing real pain. Since a lot of the underlying destruction is coming from the EU and it’s faceless bureaucratic austerity policies, simply aiming at Macron and his government alone likely won’t solve the problem any more than the Brexit agony has (or will) in Britain. Most people still don’t understand what is going on. They just know it hurts and lash out at what they are able to see.

        The elites internationally and over time have created a remarkable system of obfuscation, more pathological and insidious than anything a single individual would be capable of, that seems to have acquired a life of it’s own, and is tearing civilization apart piece by piece.

        1. vidimi

          i am not sure that too many of the core problems come from the EU.

          portugal and poland, two countries also within the EU, have managed to improve the lives of their citizens over the past decade. i have been to both recently and the changes since 2008 are remarkable. portugal has even done it while constrained by the euro.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            What it seems you are saying is not that the EU’s general philosophy of wealth extraction -austerity- doesn’t constrain it’s member states, particularly those with less of an industrial base that export less, but rather that some of those member states (for what ever reason) can and are willing to make social improvements within those constraints regardless. If so, that doesn’t negate the possibility that Brussels (or elitism internationally) must change before Europe can, only that things can be made more bearable along the way.

            1. vidimi

              exactly. brussels generally and the euro specifically are neoliberal constraints on member states. however, some of those states apply neoliberal principles above and beyond what is imposed on them and do so enthusiastically.the EU didn’t force Macron to sell profitable public companies and eliminate the wealth tax; he is doing that because it is what the arnaults and the attalis want.

      2. Ignacio

        +1 thanks for the link. I believe this paragraph from Piketty is the most explanatory:

        The saddest thing is the appalling wastage and mess concerning global warming. If a carbon tax is to succeed, it is imperative that the totality of the net proceeds be allocated to the social measures associated with the ecological transition. The government has done just the opposite: only 10% of the 4 billion Euros rise in fuel duty in 2018, and the extra 4 billion expected in 2019, were earmarked for social measures, while the remainder [90%] financed, de facto, the abolition of the wealth tax (ISF) and the flat tax on income from capital.

        This is important. First, taxes under Macron (under Merkel, forcing VAT increases in Spain and other countries etc.) have become more and more regressive and there is a growing disconnet on the reasons for tax collection and the allocation of expenses. So, a “carbon tax” is nothing but an excuse to reduce the wealth tax. It migth produce some reduction of oil consumption, but not as meaningful as needed, in part because the proceeds are not used to provide alternative solutions. Macron is very much a neoliberal hypocrite like Sarkozy but with the aggravating feature of wielding some supposed moral superiority on climate change. In this sense is MUCH WORSE THAN TRADITIONAL CONSERVATIVES.

    2. Oregoncharles

      There is a simple solution to the conflict between environmental needs and social justice: return the proceeds of a carbon tax (and it should be that, not just diesel or gasoline) to the public – equal payments to every resident. Those amounts would be highly significant to the poor, but insignificant for rich people. Personally, I would advocate first dedicating a portion to environmental measures – subsidies that would actually reach the poor would be ideal.

      This idea has been out there for several decades, but somehow never put into effect.

      Politically, Macron did himself in by rescinding the wealth tax first, so his real loyalties are perfectly obvious. Until he restores that, he’ll continue to be in trouble. He wasn’t popular to begin with; he got only 24% in the first round, about where he is now. He only won because Le Pen was the alternative. So acting like he could do as he wished was wrong, morally and politically.

      And a further note: leaderless or not, the gilets jaunes appear to have drawn major lessons from Occupy: first of all, don’t get stuck in a park. Be on the streets, in the way, where they can’t possibly ignore you and you can impose major costs. If extremists resort to violence or property destruction, that just makes the peaceful protesters look like the ones to deal with. Second, they came up with a list of demands that reads to me, for the most part, as a leftish wish list. It’s long – 40 items! That swept in everyone, and raises the chances of getting something, maybe a lot. For a “leaderless” movement, they’re showing a lot of good sense. An Occupier’s explanation for not having leaders made sense to me: “why give the authorities a sacrificial lamb?” Didn’t mean that they didn’t have leaders; in Portland, I saw them, was walking next to them for a little while. But they stayed inconspicuous.

      Although the movement so far isn’t explicitly anti-EU, it’s a direct response to the austerity imposed by the Eurozone, and an attack on the most internationalist of EU leaders. The groundswell against neoliberal policies continues to rise.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      a question for those more accustomed to econospeak translated from the French:
      a little less than halfway down page:

      ” In 2012, the detailed tax declaration above 3 million Euros was even abolished (since then all that is required is a global amount of wealth with no possibility of systematic control). ”

      Does this mean that people with income and/or wealth above E3 million don’t need to file a detailed tax form?
      If so, it is no wonder the little people are pissed!
      Akin to preferentially auditing the poor while turning a blind eye to the rich.

  1. c_heale

    The concessions Macron has offered so far are minimal. 100 euros extra a month won’t go far. I read another article saying France is the most heavily taxed industrialized or Western country. He needs to wake up, because I can’t see these protests stopping unless he makes some big changes.

    1. CrackedOats

      The latest polls show that if there was a general election, the extreme-right and extreme-left would fare badly. Macron’s party would still be number 1. Gilets Jaunes protesters reject the far-left and far-right as much as Macron.

      And paying less taxes while having better public services IS doable, that’s what Germany and Canada have achieved, to name just two countries. The French spend way too much for lower quality public services, and that’s largely due to a bloated an unreformed local administration that all governments since the 1970s have failed to slim and reform, under pressure from local politicians who until last year controlled the French Parliament.

      I will give a very concrete example, because people always talk in general terms and tend not to realize what’s going on on the ground. Take the city of Agen, in South-West France. It’s a typical case. Agen (with its suburbs) has 75,000 inhabitants. It’s not a very large city. It’s more or less as large as Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

      In almost all European countries, Agen and its suburbs would be ruled by a single elected council, and that’s it, because most European countries merged and rationalized their municipalities in the 1970s. France has failed to do that, and as a result Agen is divided in no less than 12 independent communes, each with its mayor, its municipal council, its sports center, its communal house, its salle des fêtes, its social benefit office, etc. See map of the 12 communes here:

      The French government did not dare to oppose the local barons who made up most of the French Parliament until last year, so no real communal merger was ever mooted. To “solve” the problem, they invented a typically French thing: add another layer of local administration. And so in Agen they have created an intercommunal council, above the municipal councils, that manages issues that should be managed at the level of the entire urban area (say the local business tax, instead of having 12 different business taxes, or trash collection).

      The problem is that instead of sharing services and personnel with the communes below, this intercommunal council has created its own structures, and hired its own civil servants. And that’s how you end up with something more costly, and with vastly more civil servants than should be needed to manage a city of 75,000 people.

      Multiply this example by a few hundreds (it’s exactly the same everywhere in France), and you already have a HUGE amount of tax money that could be saved with no decrease in public services.

      Macron had a unique chance to reform this, because Hollande’s almost only good decision (and little noticed outside of France) was when he banned local mayors from becoming MP, taking effect in 2017, so Macron is the first president since 1870 to have a Parliament free of the block of mayors opposing local administration reform, but so far he hasn’t seized this opportunity at all to finally trim France’s local administration (35,400 communes, more than all other EU countries combined, plus 1,300 intercommunal councils with tax-levying powers). In fact, isolated as he is in his bubble in Paris, I don’t even think he realizes this is an issue and an opportunity.

      Recently he has even dropped the reform of Greater Paris’ governance (244 independent communes, dozens of intercommunal councils, 8 département councils, 1 metropolitan authority with close to no budget, 1 regional council, where London has only 1 Greater London Authority and 33 boroughs), for fear of angering the local mayors who would lose their seats. Hollande, for all his flaws, would probably have completed the Greater Paris reform of governance that he had started, and that Macron has unfortunately decided to shelve recently (after more than a year of dithering).

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        It all depends on what is being achieved. A streamlined bureaucratic process used to further the interests of the elite at the expense of the public doesn’t necessarily equate to a fulfilled and happy society. Moreover, inefficiency is often a good if unintended means of distribution as well as a break to refrain special interests. France in the 1970’s was vastly happier and better off than it is now, as far as the general public goes, but hardly as streamlined, ruthless and efficiently extractive of public weal as today.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Sounds good your idea until you put in practice. They did that with Local Councils in my State in Australia so that a huge amount of tax money would be saved – at least that was what people were told. As far as I can see the savings never appeared. A huge amount of money had to be spent in reorganizing all these local council districts, rebranding and all the rest of it. It then came out that all the executive staff and councilors got a huge pay rise because they were no overseeing more areas and that meant more responsibility so of course they got a massive pay rise. The savings never appeared and of that I can guarantee you.
        If the people of Agen have all those councils it is probably because they want it that way. Their councilors are probably more responsive to their wants and needs . If you had one mega-council, any idea on what you would do with the thousands of people suddenly out of work? Who picks up the tab for them? Sorry but this constant idea of cut-taxes, cut-taxes is just a way to hit people’s greed button by some politicians. If you pay high taxes, then you can demand quality services for those taxes. Just ask Scandinavia. If you constantly cut taxes, then do not be surprised that to make ends meet, that your local services are cut and the crown jewels that your local council owns are sold off to the highest bidders. Then Agen turns into just another neoliberal town.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          while I get the complaint about bureaucratic bloat, having dealt with it myself all too often…I’m generally For smaller polities.
          I like it that I know the sheriff personally…as well as the mayor, the city manager, and everybody else, down to the librarian…and the bank presidents, school board members, and practically everybody who runs or owns a business…and I usually don’t even make it to town more than twice a week.
          It ain’t perfect…and scaling up from this tiny outpost to the world would be difficult…I think it’s a worthwhile thing.
          subsidiarity, and all.
          currently, the ordinary US House member “represents” around 700,000 people.
          hardly conducive to small-r republicanism.

          Too, the bureaucratic bloat is often a cynical ploy for further rent-seeking(MUD Districts in and around Houston) and other shenanigans….and that fact should be acknowledged up front by anyone attempting to relieve said bloat.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Thanks for that Amfortas. Would you believe that for the sake of “efficiency” that the idea is floated every now and again to get rid of State Governments and their Parliaments and just have Local Councils and the Commonwealth Government instead? The equivalent for the US would be to abolish States and just have nothing between County officials and the Federal Government.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              if the states were more functional and responsive to their supposed employers(us), such arguments would be laughed right off.
              Texas government has become increasingly opaque, but at least I could locate my state congresscritter pretty easily if I wanted to(offices within driving distance…but last i looked, his email didn’t work,lol)
              one of the downsides of the dominance of national news is that most people have no idea what’s happening in Austin. even I often don’t know what the Lege is doing until it’s a done deal(local news mostly reports it after the fact)
              as for the Feds…I’ve long been an advocate of Article the First ( )
              …even though all the libertarians and repubs I know usually get up on their hind legs at that suggestion:” what, Moar Government?!”
              and one of the Constitutional Amendments I’d like to see is a universal, multi-level Right to I & R…without undue flaming hoops.
              if we’re gonna keep pretending that it’s still “our government”, can we at least make a better show of it?

      3. flora

        This sounds undemocratic to me – maybe ‘efficient’, but undemocratic:

        Hollande’s almost only good decision (and little noticed outside of France) was when he banned local mayors from becoming MP, taking effect in 2017, so Macron is the first president since 1870 to have a Parliament free of the block of mayors

        1. Bugs Bunny

          In fact, it banned them from holding 2 elected positions at the same time. Believe it or not there are some politicians in France who held 3 or even more-with benefits and perks flowing from each.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Could it be moving from petty corruption always towards more streamlined super globalized mass production scale corruption? Clearly the latter is more efficient (especially at ignoring the needs of small parts of the whole) but not necessarily more desirable.

  2. kimyo

    The yellow vest protests began on November 17, apparently rather spontaneously, in reaction to the Macron government’s decision to raise gasoline taxes by as much as 25 cents per gallon, beginning on January 1 next year.

    the diesel tax increase was implemented in jan 2018 and protests began in march. only after being ignored by macron for months did they turn violent. only after they turned violent did the media start to cover the protests.

    MPs approve four years of diesel tax rises

    Tax on diesel will rise 2.6 cents per litre every year for the next four years, after MPs voted in favour of the government’s draft budget for 2018.

    The annual increase will bring tax on diesel in line with the levy on petrol – but has been criticised by members of the centre-right Republicains, who branded it an ‘additional penalty for rural areas’.

    The diesel tax increase will be on top of carbon tax rises, which will add to the cost of at the pumps.

  3. Frenchguy

    “Had Hamon dropped out, Melenchon would have won.” Hmm, I would say that’s wrong. Had Hamon dropped out Melenchon would have edged out Le Pen to go to the second round but he would have lost to Macron (the best poll for Melechon was a 6 pts defeat against Macron, the average was a defeat by more than 10 pts). Melenchon has some huge defaults that makes him toxic to large parts of the population (notably, an authoritarian streak which seems to me an important, and negative, difference between him and Sanders/Corbyn).

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Correction taken. I didn’t see 1:1 polls. I saw polls for each candidate at the first round phase, and Hamon + Melenchon’s share was greater than Macron’s. But to Hamon’s point in not dropping out, it seems some of his voters would not have gone over to Melenchon.

      1. Iguanabowtie

        Hamon was the Socialist, ie. the same party as the incumbent Hollande AND the party in which Macron served as minister.
        ‘En Marche’ exists to let a centrist establishment party flush the legacy of a deepy unpopular president & continue their reign uninterrupted – Hollande was no more a leftist than Tony Blair. No suprise that Hamon intentionally split the round one vote to favor Macron, especially since centrists seem to vastly prefer facing right wing populists than leftwingers like Corbyn.

        1. vidimi

          hamon was the beto candidate; a kinder, gentler, liberal candidate. those who voted for him generally knew what they were voting for.

  4. vidimi

    saying that had hamon dropped out melenchon would have won falls into the same fallacy as saying had nader dropped out gore would have won. for one, it presupposes that all hamon voters would have fallen behind melenchon when, in reality, at least as many would have gotten behind macron. the few hamon voters i knew (left leaning wealthy bourgeois) loathed melenchon.

    a sidenote anecdote: my wife’s colleague lives in one of the neighbourhoods most heavily hit by rioters this saturday and her car got torched. insurance won’t cover it. she says the whole thing was just too organised and thinks it was done to discredit the gilets jaunes. even those people most impacted by the vandalism seem to support the movement.

  5. akaPaul LaFargue

    Just a note on one of the main demands I have heard in several reports – some translations and other EU reports – and that is essentially to create the 6th Republic. Specifically to put in place a referendum process. With this in place, coupled with, what I heard several gilets jaunes express, local assemblies so that the populace could be heard w/o mediators and manipulators from the parties, we have a pretty thorough political transformation, if not a revolution.

  6. David

    I listened to Macron last night – I didn’t have the strength to watch him, and it was not a bad political performance: a bit of stern security rhetoric, a mea culpa for not having paid attention recently, a “state of social and economic urgency” to tackle all the problems he has just discovered, and the promise of a few, relatively token measures. They are to be worked out by Philippe, the Prime Minister (he and Macron have been passing this problem between them like a hot potato).
    Thinking about it, I’m increasingly convinced that Macron’s real audience was not the gilets jaunes (who dismissed his speech instantly) but rather the media and political opinion. Effectively, he wants to try to move public opinion against the GJs, and pose as the president of security and good order in the face of anarchy. There’s no point in him trying to appeal to the GJs themselves.
    In part, this is because Macron was put up to run last year to complete the “reforms” which have been forced on the French over the last generation: effectively to destroy the last traces of economic and social protection, and finish the transition of the country into a neoliberal society. The French don’t like this, evidently, and are sick to death of various “reforms” over the years, which make them poorer and more insecure, always with the promise that one more reduction in workers’ rights, one more in the endless cuts in public spending, will finally bring France to the state of Anglo-Saxon neoliberal paradise that the French ruling class wants. That ruling class is unable to understand why the French people should not be grateful, but persist in being stubborn and clinging to outdated demands like having enough to eat.
    The GJs have called for the next round in Paris on Saturday, but disruption is occurring all over the country. Watch this space.

    1. Ignacio

      Your opinión about what Macron is trying to do makes sense. It is in the handbook of any conservative. I in fact believe that violence and vandalism is promoted by the ruling class to justify massive mobilization of policemen and use of “legitimate violence”. This has occurred many times before.

  7. Mael Coilum

    France is suffering from what countries like Spain, Greece, Italy et al are and that is the basic construct of the EMU. By giving away their sovereign currency issuing right, they have removed their ability to engage effective monetary policies other then those determined by the unelected elite. They have as a result lost their fiscal capacity other than shuffling around the taxes and benefits within a constrained monetary paradigm. There is no way that Brussels would allow member states to devalue the Euro, so internal devaluations will continue to eke away at the middle class until the whole mess falls on it’s face.

    The UK needs to take heart and thanks the stars they never became a part of the monetary union. Despite all the wailing they will be better off out of this corrupt regime. Interesting that France, as the main instigator of the EU is now suffering from something of their own making. Those smug Kaisers must be giggling in their schnapps as we speak.

    1. vidimi

      the EMU handicaps their budgets but it doesn’t cripple them. there are still lots of measures available to a socialist government to implement progressive policy, such as a state bank used to invest in beneficial initiatives.

  8. Cripes

    Well, recent events certainly highlights the debate over whether nonviolence or – in this case–limited violence is more effective in mobilizing the population and opposing oppressive government.

    They certainly weren’t getting much exposure until now. Perhaps the most militant thing they have done is to take the streets and refuse to leave.

    A case can also be made that the “violence” of the street is far less than the violence that years of austerity have inflicted.

    And the usual suspects may be engaged in provocations to discredit the movement on behalf of the POB.

    But Macron appears to be back on his heals, struggling both to make concessions and appear “strong.” Not a good look.

    The GJ’ for the moment seem to have a better hand. They’ve played well so far, and I wish them luck.

    It seems that a mobilized and militant peoples movement is a force to be reckoned with.

    Note-taking is encouraged.

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