France: 2.000 citizen’s road blocks, 227 wounded, one killed
Once the dust had settled last weekend in France, the real impact of the ‘citizens road blocks’ against high fuel prices, called upon on social media, became clear. Some 2.000 roads, hypermarkets and fuel depots blocked by 283.000 ‘yellow jackets’, 227 people wounded of which seven severely and a 63-year-old woman killed. However, it didn’t make the government stagger so far.
According to the French Ministry of Internal Affairs, a total of 282.710 protesters were counted in the whole of France, most of them wearing a ‘fluorescent yellow jacket’, sometimes with anti-government slogans written on it.
Roundabouts, hypermarkets and highways blocked
After a citizen’s petition and a call for action on Saturday 17 November launched on social media, people gathered to block roundabouts, hypermarkets and highways and even organized ‘toll free passage’ on ‘péages’ on toll roads. The road blocks didn’t succeed in paralyzing the country totally, as hoped by the protesters but certainly kicked up a lot of dust, stirred up by the media.
In the confrontations with the police trying to clear the roads, 227 people got wounded, 117 protesters were run in and 73 arrested. In Pont-de-Beauvoising (Savoie) a protestor, a 63-year old women, got killed when she was hit by a car.
Apparently, the driver, a mother on the way to the doctor with her sick child, got in panic when she was stopped by the protesters who began to beat on the car. She gave full throttle trying to ‘escape’.
Government stands firm
The French government admitted this ‘mobilization’ of citizen’s rage is undeniable, but it has no intention to change its point of view. Minister of Ecological Transition, François de Rugy, said in an interview with Le Parisien that the “foreseen trajectory will be followed” in the matter of the energy transition. He underlined the importance of getting out the “total oil ambush”.
Initially the protest was aimed at the higher fuel prices, but eventually the movement broadened against losing spending power and high taxes in France in general. Sometimes with sharp differences in opinion between the French living in the major cities and people with lower income mostly living in the periphery or on the rural country side.
76 to 80% due to market prices
In one year time the price for petrol 95 in France has gone from 1,243 euro per litre (October 2017) to 1,555 euro (October 2018), being 21,3 cents (+21,3%). Diesel went up from 1,235 euro to 1,523 euro or 29 cents (+23,3%). In Belgium, for instance, diesel prices have become the highest in Europe with 1,61 euro per litre, followed by Italy, Finland, Sweden and the UK.
Lots of French on social media blame the government, which raised the fuel tax (TICPE) by 7,6 cents for diesel on January 1st 2018, something that is repeated annually since 2015, but when facts are checked, it turns out that the major part of the price increase, 76,7% for diesel and 80% for petrol, is due to market prices.