The Yellow Vests have reached critical mass. And the movement has now created the perfect storm for President Emmanuel Macron.
He can no longer ignore it, even though he tried to do so. And his lack of understanding of the situation as well as his open contempt for his opposition has placed him in a political vice.
Ignoring the problem will only make him look weaker and more disinterested. He could address the situation, put France first and step aside for new elections, which is the decent thing to do.
But, he’s chosen the predictable third option, crack down on the protesters in a futile show of strength. Authoritarians react to challenges like clockwork.
Disobedience is met with violence. More disobedience is met with more violence.
Before last weekend’s Act VIII protests Macron had one of the Yellow Vests original organizers, Éric Drouet, a truck driver, arrested and released pending a trial for “organizing an undeclared demonstration” while meeting with friends at a restaurant.
Into the midst of this come the Italian Dynamic Duo of Salvini and Di Maio, leaders of the two Euroskeptic parties which make up the ruling coalition there. They both encouraged the Yellow Vests to continue to pressure the French government into reform.
All Philippe’s government could do was respond with “sweep your own door.” Ooh, do you feel the burn from that one!
And after Yellow Vests targeted both the Bank of France in Rouen and the National Assembly in Paris, Macron’s government has finally come out of hiding to announce even stronger crackdowns on these protests.
But Macron himself couldn’t do it. If he did it would simply spark an even more extreme reaction. So, at this point Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is handling the bad PR duties informing everyone that even more crackdowns are coming on these protests.
Because order and all of that.
But, the important take away from this announcement of further crackdowns is that this should only make things worse for Macron and Philippe. And it will further destabilize French society as over-worked (and seriously under-paid) police are asked to do more.
Remember, the French police donned their own yellow vests at one point complaining that they hadn’t been paid for the over-time they’ve put in to “control” these protests by stoking further violence.
If France falls into complete political chaos it will eventually force equity and bond markets to pull their heads out of the sand and see the truth for what it is, that Europe is not the model of future stability just because Macron, Merkel and Super Mario Draghi say it is.
A call for a further crackdown against protests is the same response as the new EU laws on internet speech and dissemination of memes, Articles 11 and 13, they are attempts to stop open dissent against a distant and uninvolved leadership.
The Yellow Vests in France have made the cognitive leap that Italians did in last year’s elections. That the EU is a scam and all of its policies were designed to do exactly what its done — impoverish the working classes, enrich the aristocracy and enforce it through a Byzantine bureaucracy that makes the world of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil look like a Toyota factory floor.
A France on general strike, paralyzed by political turmoil and a government at war with itself, even if Macron steps aside, will call into serious question the future viability of the EU and the euro.
This is why Salvini and Di Maio’s support of the Yellow Vests is so important, it provides another vector of attack on the EU which they eventually cannot ignore.
* * *
Please support the production of independent and alternative political and financial commentary by joining my Patreon and subscribing to the Gold Goats ‘n Guns Investment Newsletter for just $12/month.