French government scraps planned fuel tax increase amid riots

French government scraps planned fuel tax increase amid riots

On Tuesday, Philippe had announced the first major retreat of Macron's presidency when he suspended for six months a rise in fuel taxes scheduled for Jan 1.

A source in the prime minister's office also told AFP that "the government has not necessarily played all of its cards", with further concessions such as a further cut in residence taxes possible.

Farmers union FNSEA said it would fight to help farmers earn a better income, though it said it would not officially be joining forces with the "yellow vests", as the protesters have come to be called after the high-visibility vests French motorists are required to keep in their cars, and which they don for demonstrations.

The most violent protests took place last weekend while Macron attended the G-20 (Group of 20) meetings in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The "yellow vest" protests began November 17 over the government plan to raise taxes on diesel and gasoline, but by the time Macron bowed to three weeks of violence and abandoned the new fuel tax, protesters were demanding much more.

In all, four people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes or accidents stemming from the protests.

Macron and his government have appealed for calm, and signalled they are ready to make further concessions to avoid new violence after the U-turn on fuel tax increases.

French left-wing opposition parties are seeking a no-confidence vote in President Emmanuel Macron's government amid growing protests and fears of violence.

The young centrist has been hit by a wave of popular discontent over a planned eco-tax rise, which quickly morphed into a broader rebuke of his aloof leadership style and tough policies.

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However, that move had fuelled criticism that Emmanuel Macron was a "president of the rich", since it would have eased the tax burden for numerous country's wealthiest citizens. "We're in politics so that things work out", he said.

The Elysée Palace confirmed that the fuel tax hike slated for January, which sparked the Yellow Vest movement, would be cancelled entirely on late Wednesday following a massively negative reaction to Prime Minister Édouard Philippe's proposal to simply defer the tax for another six months, franceinfo reports.

The "yellow vests", meanwhile, have called for new protests this Saturday.

The farmers' grievances include financial charges on their operations, the head of the main agricultural union said.

So after nightfall Wednesday, as parliament debated the 2019 budget, Macron's government suddenly gave in.

It is a major climbdown by the government of President Macron, who had said the measures were necessary to combat climate change and meet budget deficit reduction targets.

The "yellow vests" are largely made up of modest earners from rural and small-town France, and many want Macron's proposed tax cut for the richest repealed.

Two truck driver unions have also called an indefinite sympathy strike from Sunday night, while blockades at fuel depots have caused shortages in Brittany, Normandy, and southeast regions of France.

Griveaux said the wealth tax reform had not been "a gift to the rich" and was aimed at encouraging wealthy individuals to invest more in France. Other police unions are not talking about strikes - but everyone's anxious about security risks in the face of a movement with no clear leaders whose protests are easily hijacked by troublemakers of all stripes.

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