French President Emmanuel Macron was not only present at the Élysée Palace during “Act IV” of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) protests but had a helicopter on standby to escape in case protesters broke in, according to reports.
Witnesses at the Élysée last Saturday described the French leader as “like marble” in front of the protests that not only saw high levels of riots in Paris but also in other French cities like Toulouse and Bordeaux.
The protests have put the French president on the back foot for the past several weeks and have continued even after the government agreed to the initial demand of cancelling a tax on fuel.
Earlier this week, Macron offered several more concessions including a 100 euro per tax increase in the French minimum wage and several tax breaks such as making overtime work tax-free and calling for companies to give employees year-end bonuses that would also not be taxed.
Despite the new policies, which are likely to take France over the European Union’s three per cent of GDP deficit limit, many have called for the protests to continue including far-left France Insoumise (Unsubmissive France) leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon who said, “To the indignation of the large number against the fact that some have everything and others nothing, the president thought that a distribution of money would suffice to calm the current citizen uprising.”
The sentiment has carried over to the French public, with a recent poll showing 54 per cent of French saying the protests should continue as the country braces for “Act V” on Saturday.