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An Insurrectional Atmosphere in the very Heart of Europe

Thomas Bresson [CC BY 4.0 (]

There are those who feel that their voices are not being heard. They must be able to express their ideas. There are also those who believe that the use of violence is the best way to undermine democracy. They must be stopped. France is embroiled in its worst social unrest since 1968. This protest movement called "Yellow Vests" is very destabilizing to the existing government. Today, there is a serious risk of extremists setting the agenda. An increasing fuel taxation was the spark that ignited a fire. But obviously people's anger has other root causes. The protesters are living mostly in rural areas and small or medium-sized towns. Many belong to lower and upper middle classes. They live in peripheral regions where jobs are scarce and access to public authority services has become much more difficult. They have a feeling of neglect and exclusion. They believe that "the political establishment" protects the interests of wealthy and ignore the problems of ordinary people. And yet, France is a country where public expenditure on benefits and pensions is among the highest in the world. We do not know if the French government will be able to ease tensions. What is certain is that most governments in Europe follow the current situation in France with the greatest vigilance : for good reason. Social discontent has already started to progress in various other countries. So this is a very serious matter.

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