Macron Backs Off Taxes Fueling French Anger

The French president hopes to end protests by reversing course on tax increases.

Political Editors · Dec. 12, 2018

Following weeks of protests and rioting by yellow-vested French citizens precipitated by rage over a recently levied gas tax to thwart climate change, President Emmanuel Macron, clearly feeling the heat from the growing national temper tantrum, finally addressed his constituents on Tuesday. In a televised address, Macron called for an end to the violence while conceding that the protesters’ anger was “deep, and in many ways legitimate.”

Having already done a 180 on the gas tax, Macron declared that the minimum wage would be increased by 100 Euros a month and that a tax increase on low-income pensioners would be canceled. He also smartly refused to reinstate a tax on the wealthy, which was one of the protesters’ many demands. That tax had proven to chase the rich out of France into other more tax-friendly European countries. Still, France remains the highest-taxed country in Europe.

The Wall Street Journal questions whether Macron’s concessions will be enough, noting, “The great tragedy of the Macron presidency is that these protests could have been avoided. He had cut taxes, reformed labor laws and faced down the national railroad unions. The difference is that all three were part of his campaign agenda for president. The fuel-tax hike was an unforced error that aroused rural voters who have never liked his imperious style.”

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