BREAKING NEWS

Macron to respond to national debate sparked by Yellow Vest protests

Dpa/Paris

Monday، 15 April 2019 05:22 PM

Five months after the Yellow Vest protest movement kicked off in France, President Emmanuel Macron was due on Monday to announce the first measures he plans to bring in to assuage the demands of the anti-government demonstrators.

Macron's office says he will make a speech to the nation at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT). The centrist president, who tends to keep the media at arm's length, will also hold a rare domestic press conference on Wednesday.

According to French media, reductions in income tax, relief measures for those on low pensions or assistance for single mothers are on the cards.

Macron himself has remained tight-lipped ahead of the televized address, but his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has previously raised the prospect of tax and public spending cuts.

The measures to be announced are the results of ‘great national debate,’ which the president launched in January and ran until March.

The socially liberal president travelled throughout France to debate with mayors and town councils. The consultation process involved more than 10,000 local meetings as well as 16,337 ‘books of grievances’ in town halls around the country.

Some 1.5 million people took part, according to official figures.

The Yellow Vests movement initially opposed planned fuel tax rises, but has raised broader demands for lower taxes, higher pay and more direct democracy since those tax hikes were cancelled.

Protests every Saturday have seen repeated clashes with police in Paris and other cities, though the numbers protesting - according to government estimates - have dropped gradually from 280,000 in November's first protests to 31,000 at the weekend.

Macron is under pressure to deliver: Eighty-five per cent of the French population want to see Macron take more interest for the concerns of his citizens, according to a new survey, while 82 per cent expect a shift in economic and social policy.

At the same time, his arch-political rival the far-right National Front party is snapping at the heels of his own La Republique en Marche party in opinion polls.

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