After Paris Violence, Pressure Mounts On Macron’s Post-Debate Response | 3/18/2019 | Staff
PARIS (Reuters) – Just when Emmanuel Macron thought he had regained the upper hand over the yellow vest protest movement with his “great debate”, the latest flare-up of violence reminded the French leader that putting his reform agenda back on track won’t be easy.

Town hall meetings across France launched two months ago to defuse the unrest helped Macron reconnect with voters, boosting his popularity and lifting the gloom in the Elysee, even if some participants felt the encounters were a pointless talk shop.

Images - Banks - Restaurants - Champs-Elysees - Paris

But images of burning banks and ransacked restaurants on the famed Champs-Elysees in Paris this past weekend have put Macron back on the defensive – just as he mulls new policies to appease the “yellow vest” protesters.

“Saturday’s images of the Champs-Elysees threaten the early signs of appeasement that national debate seemed to have created,” Bernard Sananes of polling institute Elabe said.

Organizers - Saturday - Protest - Ultimatum - Pressure

Organizers of Saturday’s protest called it an “ultimatum”, seeking to intensify pressure on the 41-year-old president as he digests hours of facetime with mayors, high school students, workers and stay-at-home mothers, as well as 1.4 million online contributions.

“His debate may be finished but we are still here on the streets,” 43-year old unemployed Agnes told Reuters TV during the yellow vest march in Paris. “And if he does not satisfy our demands, we will take back the roundabouts, we will go and block everything.”

Protesters - Swansong - Minister - Sign - Crisis

Whether it was a protesters’ swansong, as his interior minister suggested, or sign of an “endless crisis” as newspaper Le Monde put it in its editorial, Saturday’s destruction pointed to the tense environment in which Macron must make decisions that will shape the rest of his five-year mandate.

Aware of the dangers of high expectations and the limited wiggle room French public finances allow, Macron had visibly instructed his ministers to play down the scope of...
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